Butler sees championship potential, bright future with Sixers
Rob Maaddi | The Associated Press
CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — Jimmy Butler listens to country music, enjoys playing cards and drives a minivan.
Oh, the four-time All-Star forward loves to win.
Butler was greeted by more than 250 employees of the Philadelphia 76ers at his introductory news conference at the team’s practice facility Tuesday. He made it clear winning a championship is his main priority.
“I already got enough money to have me and my family set for the rest of my life. It’s not about the money,” said Butler, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of the season. “I have to love where I’m at and have a great chance to win a championship.”
The Sixers believe adding Butler to a roster that includes Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will allow them to compete for an NBA title. They won 52 games last season and advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals after going 75-253 combined the previous four years.
Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless were traded to Minnesota along with a 2022 second-round draft pick for Butler and Justin Patton.
“With Joel, Ben and Jimmy, we have a strong, dynamic team,” Sixers general manager Elton Brand said, pointing to a “championship window.”
Butler is expected to make his debut with his new team on Wednesday in Orlando (7 ET, NBA League Pass).
The 29-year-old Butler has averaged 21.8 points a game since the start of the 2014-15 season, the 13th-highest clip in the NBA over that span. The deal to Philadelphia ends a two-month saga that began when Butler told the Timberwolves shortly before training camp that he wanted to be moved.
Critics, often citing anonymous sources, called Butler a disruptive presence on a team. Butler defended his reputation.
“You really wouldn’t know who I am unless you’re around me every day,” Butler said. “For the most part, that’s why I don’t worry too much about what everybody says. If you know me, if you’re around me, you know my heart. You know how I go about what I go about.
“I love my teammates. I don’t think there’s too many of them that’ll tell you that I’m a bad teammate but people get whatever they want to say out. It is what it is, but I think that I’m an incredible human being and teammate and I’ll show that to the guys that are here.”
Brand said he spoke to several of Butler’s former teammates and came away more than satisfied.
“In the locker room, they loved him,” Brand said. “On the court, he’s demanding and he wants to win.”
Butler’s hard-charging style of play will certainly fit well in Philadelphia.
“I’m not the most talented guy. I’m not the best shooter. I’m not the fastest guy. I just work hard,” Butler said. I take great pride in that. I love to work. I love to grind. It doesn’t change now. I’ll take it up a notch. I think the city will love that.”
Butler isn’t concerned about not getting enough touches on offense with Embiid, Simmons, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and others on the Sixers. He handled the ball a lot in Minnesota but doesn’t worry about fitting into coach Brett Brown’s system.
“I’m great at sharing the ball, moving without the ball,” Butler said. “If I need the ball, I’ll go steal it, go the other end and lay it up. Go get an offensive rebound. There’s more than one way to get the ball. I think the way these guys play, sharing the ball, setting screens, slipping, all of that good stuff, I think that’s actually easier than having to create all the time in iso situations and off the pick-and-roll.”