'We want to win' -- Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid excited to add Jimmy Butler
Sixers' stars believe Butler improves their offense and defense
The Philadelphia 76ers’ trade for Jimmy Butler came as a surprise to the team when the news broke before their game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
“There’s a sad side to it,” Ben Simmons said after the team’s short-handed loss to Memphis. “But obviously, there’s a business side and whatever the front office decides to help us win, whatever they want to add. We are open to Jimmy and can’t wait for him to get here. I’m excited to play with him.”
Simmons said he spoke with Butler earlier in the day about their plans for the new-look Sixers.
“Between me, [Joel Embiid] and Jimmy, we all have that similar mindset of we hate losing, that pisses us off and we want to win,” Simmons said. “A guy like him who can come in, score the ball, veteran leadership, experience — he’s going to fit in here. Our culture is winning, playing together as a team and playing hard. I think he’s going to bring that.”
While Embiid hadn’t talked with Butler yet, he did get the chance to discuss the trade with two players who have plenty of experience with Butler — former Timberwolves teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
“They thought that he was going to be good for us,” Embiid said after the game. “They thought that we were definitely going to get along. He wants to win. [Wiggins] told me that he thought that we were going to win the East for sure.”
The addition of Butler isn’t without its downsides, though, as the Sixers were forced to say goodbye to longtime teammates Dario Saric and Robert Covington.
“I miss Dario and [Covington],” said Embiid. “They gave us a lot the past couple of years. I felt like we were starting to play really well together and figure it out. Dario was finding himself again, and Cov is first-team all-defense, doing his job and knocking down shots. I felt like we were starting to like really figure it out and play well together.
“But it’s a business. Gotta move on. Love those guys. Wish them luck. I miss them, I love them. Gotta keep in touch with them.”
With Butler soon to be in the fold, Embiid and Simmons aren’t worried about how the four-time All-Star will affect the team’s offensive ball movement.
“I think he’s going to help us a lot offensively and especially defensively,” said Embiid. “With the type of system we play, we like to move the ball. The ball goes through everybody’s hands, so I don’t think bringing someone else will take the ball out of my hands or Ben’s hands. We are going to figure it out. I’m sure he’s coming in here willing to fit in.
“I’m excited to see where he takes us, and how much better we are going to look.”
“It’s not going to affect my game. I know how to play,” Simmons said. “I know what I’m good at. I know what I can do on the floor, him coming in helps us, and having another scorer on the floor, and another vet who will play the game the right way.”
The deal is reportedly expected to be finalized on Monday when the two teams make the trade official with the league offices. Butler’s first game with the Sixers could come on Wednesday when the team visits the Orlando Magic (7 ET, NBA League Pass).
* * *