Boston Celtics

An argumentative year has followed mercurial scorer Jimmy Butler from Minnesota to Philadelphia, with Butler ‘aggressively challenging’ Sixers coach Brett Brown, according to a report from ESPN.

Butler’s reported frustration comes due to his frustration with his role within Philly’s Big Three structure that sees him as the third piece of a dynamic led by the young duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

“Butler has been vocal in his contesting of Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses considered ‘disrespectful’ and beyond normal player-coach discourse,” the ESPN report, full of league sources as you’d expect from Woj and Shelburne, included. “.. Butler’s sluggish assimilation into the Sixers environment is causing some concern about his long-term viability and fit with the organization, league sources said.”

Now that is just plain shocking.

Acquired from the T’Wolves (after Butler made everything unbelievably awkward with a ‘f–k you, you need me’ practice session against the faces of the franchise) earlier this season, and on his third team in three seasons, Butler’s fit into the Philly scheme has been noticeably difficult. Through 21 games, the 29-year-old Butler is averaging 18 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 free throws per night. These are all noticeable dips from Butler’s Minnesota totals, and from his Bulls days, too.

Now, Butler’s slow immersion hasn’t impacted the Sixers too much, as they’re 15-6 with Butler in their lineup. But it certainly complicates the long-term view, especially if Butler is indeed viewed as the third piece of a Sixer group expected to compete with the Celtics, Bucks, and Raptors for the Eastern Conference crown both this year and for the foreseeable future.

And doesn’t it speak to the fact that this dude is just one gigantic pain in the ass?

Making him one major bullet dodged by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.

The Celtics were believed to be highly interested in Butler back before his trade to Minnesota, and some believe that the Celtics were even among those still interested in Butler after the trade to Minnesota. Butler himself, meanwhile, reportedly had plans to team up with the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving somewhere in the East when they both hit the open market in 2019. (Irving has since verbally committed to a long-term deal with the Celtics, seemingly blowing Butler’s plans to smithereens.)

Instead, Butler landed in Philly, where they’ll hope he’ll be enough to help topple a C’s squad that handled them in five games in the second round of last year’s postseason. It wasn’t enough in Philly’s first with-Butler head-to-head against the Celtics, a 121-144 overtime loss on Christmas Day, which saw Butler shoot 9-for-21 from the field for 24 points.

Of course, it’s still early, and there’s plenty of time for Butler, Brown, and the Sixers to get on the same page.

But there’s certainly something sweet about the Sixers potentially not being able to complete their “Process” correctly.