When Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler made his trade request last month, the Brooklyn Nets reportedly made his list. Be glad that didn’t happen.
The Jimmy Butler drama exploded Wednesday, with the four-time All-Star exploding at teammates, executives, coaches, ball boys, the basket stanchions, unnamed Gatorade cups and just about everything else he could find.
That was before he sat in front of conveniently located ESPN cameras to tell his side of the request he made last month to be traded, preferably to a team that could not only afford to give him a max deal, but with the cap space to give another premium free agent one, too.
One of the teams that was reportedly on Butler’s short list of preferred destinations, then, was the Brooklyn Nets. General manager Sean Marks had made some adroit moves over the offseason, primarily reuniting Timofey Mozgov‘s contract with its originator, Mitch Kupchak.
Brooklyn will enter next offseason with somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million to $70 million under the cap (a nice neighborhood to be in), barring any changes with extensions for fourth-year players D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or a new deal for Spencer Dinwiddie.
Nothing came of Butler’s interest in Brooklyn, even though Marks reportedly did due diligence and called the Timberwolves.
As Wednesday’s events unfolded in Minneapolis, it was hard not to feel at least a bit of relief that Sideshow Jimmy had not, in fact, wangled his way to Brooklyn.
There is no denying Butler’s talent. His rise from 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft to being one of the NBA’s best 15 players on annual basis has been impressive.
Butler is a legendarily hard worker, as well. But there’s something that goes along with that work.
Butler’s tale, his route to NBA stardom, was unconventional. Homeless at 13.
Taken with the dreaded No. 30 pick in the draft, meaning that instead of at least having some flexibility as a second-round pick, he was locked in with the Chicago Bulls for the smallest — albeit with a two-year guarantee — rookie deal available.
And that can be part of what makes Jimmy Butler what he is, both the good and the disruptive.
The guy probably harbors some resentment against lottery picks who don’t work hard, considering what he had to go to achieve star status.
So when he blows up about Karl-Anthony Towns‘ late-night video gaming or Andrew Wiggins‘ lack of interest on the defensive end, some of it probably comes from a place that genuinely believes that players with that much talent should take full advantage,
But part of that rage comes from a much darker place, a place rooted in jealousy and anger that achievements came more easily and were more readily available for those players.
And it is that side that has led Butler to apparently fracture not one, but two locker rooms in recent seasons.
This was a point I made during the initial “Butler wants to come to Brooklyn???!!!” hysteria.
If one team has a bad locker room and you’re part of it, the blame is difficult to assess without having inside knowledge.
If two teams have bad locker rooms and you’ve been part of both of them, let’s just say it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes-level deductive skills to figure out the root of it all.
Jimmy Butler’s talent would be a great get for any NBA franchise. But that talent doesn’t offset the damage that Sideshow Jimmy can do to a team’s environment.
So from that respect, it’s terrific that this situation is a “someone-else” problem.