Jimmy Butler talked about his 76ers tenure Wednesday morning on The JJ Redick Podcast With Tommy Alter and didn’t paint a positive picture of coach Brett Brown and the organization.
“Hell yeah, it was difficult. It was so different," Butler said. "On any given day, me as a person, as a player, I didn’t know who the [expletive] was in charge. I think that was my biggest thing.
“I didn’t know what the [expletive] to expect whenever I would go into the gym, whenever I go onto the plane, whenever I go into the game. I was like, man. I think I was as lost as the next [expletive].”
Redick, a New Orleans Pelicans shooting guard, was a teammate of Butler’s with the Sixers last season. He asked Butler if he meant that there were a lot of voices.
“A lot of input from a lot of different places?” asked Redick, who seemingly knew the answer.
Butler’s response: “And just so much going on on any given day. I was just, yup, I guess I’m just here to work. I didn’t even know who to talk to.”
Brown said he didn’t have any comment about Butler’s remarks.
“He’s having a hell of a year in Miami,” the coach said before the game Wednesday night. “He’s in a good place and we wish him well.”
On the podcast, Redick and Butler talked about a meeting in which nothing was accomplished within a month of the Sixers’ acquiring Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves in November 2018. Butler said he told Redick, '"JJ, why would I ever go in there again?"
“Nothing is getting accomplished,” Butler said. “Nobody is saying nothing to anybody. We are just sitting in here watching film, and you could literally hear the thing just clicking. And we are all just looking around.”
But the five-time All-Star continued to go to team meetings and video sessions.
He actually went out of his way to not say anything that would be perceived as inflammatory based on his reputation at his previous two stops. He just sat back and watched.
Butler had been at odds with Minnesota’s front office and wasn’t a good mix with the Timberwolves’ young stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He also reportedly had a few problems with some of his younger teammates while with the Chicago Bulls.
But despite his trying to remain low-key as a Sixer, there was a reported blowup with Brown during a team video session on Dec. 29, 2018, in Portland.
Brown and the players immediately downplayed the report, and he and Redick downplayed the incident again on the podcast. Butler explained that he was speaking up for then-teammate T.J. McConnell.
“Once again, wasn’t nobody saying nothing,” Butler said. “So who was the individual that finally decided to say something?”
Redick said nothing Butler said about the team was wrong. He thought his interaction with Brown was a normal one.
“Basically he was like there was some tweaks to the offense,” Redick said of Butler. “I think some other guys on the team feel the same way.”
Redick joked that Butler threw McConnell under the bus for mentioning that the reserve point guard wanted more pick-and-rolls.
But as Butler explained, he thought someone else would speak up about pick-and-rolls because he had discussed it with about five people. But there was silence. So he happened to turn around and McConnell was the first person he locked eyes on.
“So [then-Sixers assistant coach Monty Williams] goes, ‘Yo, for real, now is the time,’ " Butler said.
After McConnell was hesitant to speak up, Butler addressed the coach.
“I feel like, it’s OK to speak your mind,” he said. “Ain’t nothing wrong with it. The worst thing Brett could have said was [expletive] you. No, and you just go back to being quiet. At least, you get to say what you got to say."
Redick went on say that he loves Brown. He added that he knew Butler’s relationship wasn’t the same.
“It sure was not,” Butler said.
Butler acknowledged that his relationship with Brown didn’t evolve after the Sixers tweaked the offense in the postseason, making him the primary ballhandler. That role had been Ben Simmons’ in the regular season.
“Till this day, I don’t think that was fair to switch over like that,” Butler said. "Even though we were playing great basketball, I don’t think it was fair, because the entire year Ben [Simmons] had the ball. So you mean to tell me that in one playoff series you just switch it up like that?
“I would be like he was. I would feel a type of way. I would think that it’s [expletive] up to play one way the entire year and then be like, ‘Boom this is how we are going to do it.' ”
Butler said he would tell Brown they needed to mix in Simmons as a ballhandler a bit. But, he said, the coach, responded, “No, we do A to B. We do this.”
Butler said he was told a main reason he couldn’t go back to the Sixers was because the team asked Brown, “Can you control him?"
“If you think you can control Jimmy, we would think about having him back,” Butler said he was told. "I was like, you don’t have to worry about it. [Expletive]. Can’t nobody [expletive] control me.
“For one, I ain’t out there doing no [expletive]. But the fact, that you are trying to control a grown man. Nah, I’m cool, because I don’t do nothing that is drastically [expletive] stupidly crazy. I don’t know that. So sit here and come at me with you got to control him. We good."
Redick said he knew he wasn’t coming back when he had his exit interview with general manager Elton Brand. The shooting guard realized that he wasn’t a high priority for the team to sign in free agency.