What's official is Jimmy Butler's desire to no longer be a part of the Minnesota Timberwolves' plans moving forward. What's unofficial however is how it will impact his legacy from now until years after he's retired. Butler became an even hotter topic after being traded from the Chicago Bulls, the team that selected him with the last pick in the first round back in 2011. Many saw the move as a stab in the back to a player that had begun to carry the team as it moved on from then-star guard Derrick Rose.
Speaking to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Butler stated his displeasure of how he had to part with a team and city he'd come to love.
“I guess being called the face of an organization isn’t as good as I thought. We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That’s all I want to do. I just want to be winning games. Do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I’m trying to do.”
Fast forward merely a year later, where he's turned the tides of loyalty in the business that is the NBA. The long debate of “it's a business” has added another tally mark to the players' scoreboard. Not only has Butler disturbed Minnesota's future plans, but he's also disrupted their plans for the present.
It's no shocker that asking for a trade less than a week before training camp commences is nothing short of inconvenient, leaving many to wonder Butler's mindset and professionalism when it comes to his handling of business. Now, the Timberwolves are left to scramble as the season approaches and assemble together any decent packages they can or suffice with keeping Butler for the next season and losing him inevitably next July.
Many began to wonder if Butler is the source of negativity in the locker room, after having voiced his dissatisfaction with younger stars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, after previously doing the same in Chicago. It was noted as well by Joe Cowley back in October 2017, that Butler had stated the same issue with Rose.
“According to the source, Butler considers Rose a friend, but “doesn’t have a lot of respect for his work ethic.’’ In Butler’s mind, Rose was considered the face of the franchise, and if the face of the franchise wasn’t busting his butt in practice every day, especially last season, what was the message to the rest of the team?”
He's been credited by coaches alike such as Fred Hoiberg, who described his work ethic as that comparable to his own former teammates Kevin Garnett and Michael Jordan back in their prime, which has given him the credibility and often backlash of calling out teammates that he may feel cheat the effort required daily to become part a title-contending team.
Being a hard-nosed, gritty competitor, it often can be hard to find teammates that share the same admiration and aggression for the game as himself. Adding onto that sentiment was Scottie Pippen on ESPN's The Jump following the trade of Butler to Minnesota.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 29, 2017
“Well, it’s just a lot of locker room talk that Jimmy was disrespecting the head coach, disrespecting the assistant coach. Just wasn’t showing the type of leadership that you’d expect from your best player,” responded Pippen to the question of why it was good for the Bulls to start fresh without Butler.
As he possibly navigates to his third team in his seventh year, many can wonder if it is the lack thereof on the team, or Butler himself, that continue to plague his journey. But what's not to be overlooked is the fact that Butler has worked himself into having a reputation of being a hard worker whether on games or practices. He can jump teams all he wants, but it's not his fault if his teammates can't keep up with his work ethic.