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When there is perceived trouble in basketball paradise, opposing teams will call.
That appears to be what’s happening, or at least has happened, with the Philadelphia 76ers after reports of a confrontation between veteran swingman Jimmy Butler and coach Brett Brown.
“An opposing team has already called to ask if this latest blowup means Butler might be on the market,” Yaron Weitzman wrote in his excellent piece for Bleacher Report, citing league sources.
“This, as rumors swirl around NBA circles that the Sixers, spooked that Butler will bolt when he becomes a free agent this summer, are contemplating dealing Butler before the trade deadline. The team has never considered dealing Butler, according to league sources. But it’s worth noting that the vultures around the NBA, often willing and eager to sow discord, have emerged.”
As Weitzman also noted, Sixers ownership really pushed for the Butler trade — so if there’s yet another Butler meltdown, or he bolts in free agency, it’s on the men spending the big bucks for the Sixers.
Butler was viewed as very coachable and a team-first type of guy early in his career, but according to one general manager, “got caught up in the lifestyle.” The GM went on to blast agent Butler’s agent, Bernie Lee, with the GM telling Amico Hoops, “Butler will always be a huge risk because I think he listens to that guy. Who is that guy anyway? He has no other clients I’d sign. How did he get Jimmy?”
Either way, Butler and Brown both downplayed the incident, implying that the ESPN report was overblown.
“I don’t think any part of it was confrontational,” Butler told reporters. “We’re in here, talking, trying to win games, making sure everybody’s happy. Confrontation? That’s not the word I would use.”
Brown also said he had no problem with anything that involved Butler.
“I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line,” he said. “He’s vocal. He’s all in and he has opinions, but it’s instigated by me. None of this should surprise anybody. He’s got opinions. He wants to be heard. And he should be heard.”