Star forward Jimmy Butler bounced around the league over the previous few years before joining the Miami Heat. One of his brief tenures saw him spend last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, where plenty of internal issues emerged. With that in mind, another inkling why thinks didn’t work has surfaced involving Butler and Ben Simmons.
Jimmy Butler’s tenure with the 76ers
Early in the 2018-19 season, the Philadelphia 76ers made the big-splash move to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Butler’s addition to the fray alongside stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was hoped to take the franchise to the next level. The 76ers pushed their way toward one of the top records in the Eastern Conference behind their strong core group that added Tobias Harris to the mix.
However, the 76ers fell short in dramatic fashion in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals matchup against the Toronto Raptors after Kawhi Leonard’s miraculous buzzer-beater. Philadelphia attempted to keep Butler in the fold, but things didn’t line up the way it was hoped. That led to the Miami Heat jumping into the situation to snag the star forward on a max deal in free agency.
Since then, much has come out with the internal shortcomings that played a part in the team’s struggled to breakthrough in the Eastern Conference last year. One of which saw an interesting detail about Simmons and Butler’s relationship emerge.
Jimmy Butler wasn’t impressed by Ben Simmons’ mentality
Among the issues that troubled the 76ers was their lack of leadership within the franchise.
It’s something that Jimmy Butler voiced during an interview on the J.J. Redick Podcast earlier this year. At the same time, Zach Harper of The Athletic has reported that Butler didn’t have the same level of respect for teammate Ben Simmons’ mental makeup as he did for Joel Embiid.
That isn’t to say that it’s a shot at Simmons, but more so that he didn’t believe that the star guard was where he needed to be mentally. Over the years, Butler has earned a reputation for his tremendously strong mental approach to the game. His challenges to teammates that have gone both ways in terms of the vibe around the teams he’s played for in his career.
Butler’s reported viewpoint of Simmons didn’t cause a rift within the 76ers, but more so points out that there were things within that weren’t up to par. That, coupled with the leadership’s instability above the players, made for a situation that pan out the way all involved hoped it would.
76ers’ future remains up in the air
The 2019-20 season was full of ups and downs for the 76ers that saw them struggle to match last year’s level of success.
Philadelphia couldn’t find any offensive stability as Joel Embiid’s production dipped while Ben Simmons struggled with his health. It also saw Simmons suffer an injury during the Orlando Bubble situation that forced him out of action before the start of the playoffs.
That foreseeably led to the 76ers being swept in the first round against the Boston Celtics. Following that disappointing end to their season, the organization decided to move on from head coach Brett Brown. The team has secured former LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers as Brown’s replacement on a five-year deal.
There could be more changes on the horizon as rumblings have emerged that the team could move on from Simmons or Embiid before next season. Ultimately, what it all points to is a busy offseason ahead for Philadelphia.