Most every Philadelphia 76ers fan has circled November 23rd on their calendar. That’s the day Jimmy Butler returns to Philadelphia. The Miami Heat and Sixers will clash in a game that may create a hostile environment inside the Wells Fargo Center.

Over the past two months, numerous reports and sources have shared a variety of viewpoints on the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade.  Some say Butler was open to staying, but only for the max, which the Sixers refused to offer. Some say the Sixers were out of the Butler sweepstakes from the start.  And some say Butler wanted out from the beginning despite a max offer from Elton Brand. What are fans to do with the conflicting reports? 

There is not much Sixers fans will ever know regarding the true reasoning for Jimmy’s departure.  But it is fun to speculate. So, let’s take a look at a couple of factors that may help explain his somewhat curious departure.

He Said He Wanted to Win

Arguably the most confusing factor in Butler’s departure from Philly is his desire to win.  When he was acquired by the Sixers in late November of last season, he was quoted saying, “All I’ve ever wanted to do is win at any and every level and I have the opportunity to do that here.”

Clearly, Butler recognized the potential for winning in Philadelphia.  But if his priorities were winning, why leave for a fringe playoff team such as the Heat?  When looking at Jimmy Butler’s track record, it is obvious that he is extremely intense on and off the court.  He does not seem like the type of person to leave a winning situation simply for the Florida sunshine. One may think that Butler simply disregarded his desire for winning in this decision.  But nothing in his past would align itself with this theory. Sixers fans should not discount Butler’s desire to win, and it is likely that he would not step away voluntarily from a winning culture.  This factor points to Elton Brand not offering Butler the max, angering the guard and leading to his departure.

The Behind the Scenes Issues

It has been well-documented that Butler has consistently had problems with teammates and coaches throughout his career. This was not much different in Philadelphia.  

A report in early January courtesy of ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Butler and Coach Brett Brown had a very tense interaction during a film session.  Allegedly, Butler was frustrated by how he was being used in the Sixers offense. He felt as though the ball should have been in his hands more often in pick and roll situations. 

This incident was definitely concerning for Sixers fans and points to Butler not being happy in Philadelphia; a factor that would cause him to leave.

Desire to Be the Man

Butler clearly has a desire to be his team’s alpha.  The clutch player, runner of the offense, and face of the franchise. But with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons firmly implanted in the basketball DNA of Philadelphia, Butler would never be that guy with the Sixers.  Despite his extreme work ethic and love from the fans, the Sixers two young stars likely stole much of his desired spotlight.

In the playoffs, Butler was the clear go-to scorer.  Much of the offense ran through him and he seemed to spark the Sixers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors. But moving forward, the Sixers will have Tobias Harris, Embiid and Simmons. There is likely not much room for another ball-dominant presence.  This puts the possibility that Butler may have wanted out of Philadelphia at the forefront.

Verdict: Jimmy Wanted Out

Between not being the top option and his strong personality, Butler simply wanted out.  He now is in a situation where he can be the face of Miami sports. He will help the Heat sell tickets and possibly sneak into the playoffs.

While there are likely many other factors that brought Jimmy Butler to Miami, these few are interesting to consider.


The bottom line is that Sixers fans may never really know why Jimmy left. But it is quite apparent that come November 23rd, Jimmy will become the ultimate villain to Sixers fans everywhere.

Featured Image: Bleacher Report
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