It’s not a question of if the Miami Heat is a perfect fit for Jimmy Butler, but is Butler the right fit for them? Butler has been known to be a little abrasive with coaches, management, and teammates. So, with the Heat as fragile as they are now, is Butler ready for that?
He’s led the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves to the playoffs before. While in Philadelphia, he was the second option at best and just like in Minnesota, he balked at that idea. Butler left Philly not because of locker room issues but because coach Brett Brown is too stuck in his coaching ways. Will the Heat run into the same problem?
Last season, the Miami Heat gave Dwyane Wade a farewell tour as their rebuild was set in motion. So what exactly will Butler be heading to when he suits up for the first time?
Hassan Whiteside is gone. Josh Richardson is gone as well and there are rumors that Goran Dragic is on his way out the door. That leaves the roster worse than what he had in Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. The other part of that is, Butler knew this going in and appears to be fine with the situation. What happens from this point on, well, that’s on his skills and leadership.
Does Jimmy Butler have what it takes to lead the Heat back to the playoffs? Is Butler ready to take on Pat Riley and the ghost of Wade? If not, then staying in Philly was the best choice. If the Heat miss the playoffs, no one will blame the youngins. This will fall on Butler. There will be no more hiding from responsibilities.
Last season, Butler averaged 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists while shooting 46.2% from the floor. Those are not playoff-leading numbers. He must do more and he will. With Minnesota, Butler attempted 15.6 shots per game. While in Philly, he attempted 13.6 shots per game. With the Heat in search of a perimeter threat and someone willing to go to the basket, Butler will easily see 18-20 attempts per.
But the big question and what will have Butler up most nights in a cold sweat is; how will his new teammates respond? Are they ready for this? Waiters is not one to back down from a challenge. What also may serve this young team some purpose is that they have played with a legend in Wade. While there no championships were won, Wade still displayed great confidence in this young core. Can Butler do the same?
There’s no way Jimmy Butler can walk into next season and think championship. For starters, the team is not ready or built to win now and the Eastern Conference is just too strong. Is playoffs a possibility? Yes. But it’s a longshot. And while Butler will go the extra mile, he has to understand that his example will rub off on others. This has been the biggest question mark surrounding Butler throughout his career. This is the energy Wade took when he retired. This is the same energy Kawhi Leonard showed the Toronto Raptors last season and look how well that worked out.
The Miami Heat will open the 2019-20 NBA season with a possible starting five of Justice Winslow, Waiters, Butler, Bam Adebaya, and James Johnson. On paper, the Milwaukee Bucks, 76ers, Boston Celtics or Raptors have no reason to worry. However, anything can happen.
If Waiters, Winslow, and Derrick Jones can step up, 30-35 wins is not out of the question. What will be the definition of a winning season in Miami in 2020? Making the playoffs is one thing. If Butler can do that and manage to avoid any issues with management, players or coaches then his presence alone may draw other top free agents to South Beach.
Miami is in need of a new face. Butler is searching for a new home. On paper, this is a match made in heaven. However, we thought that in Minnesota, Chicago, and in Philly. Maybe we see something that Jimmy Butler has yet to see and was never ready to admit. He just wasn’t ready to be a leader. He wanted this trade. Wanted the big money. But what he has to realize is that with great power comes great responsibility. Is Jimmy Butler ready for that?