With small forward Jimmy Butler standing out on the Miami Heat this year, ESPN dug into the differences compared to his days with the Chicago Bulls.
A constant discussion surrounding the Chicago Bulls front office since he left the Windy City is what could’ve happened if John Paxson and Gar Forman elected to hang onto star small forward Jimmy Butler. The Bulls dealt Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves back during the 2017 offseason for a return that wound up including power forward Lauri Markkanen, shooting guard Zach LaVine, and point guard Kris Dunn.
Apparently the Bulls’ management is still clinging to the belief that “Jimmy G. Buckets” can’t be the “No. 1 player on a championship team”. In a recent story that was published by ESPN NBA staff writer Nick Friedell on Feb. 11, he covers how the Miami Heat are turning Butler into the player that the Bulls never could in their situation.
The Heat are doing things that the Bulls were never able to do while Butler was playing for them. Butler could very well be leading a Heat team that tries to compete with the Milwaukee Bucks to be the team that knocks them off during the run through the Eastern Conference playoffs this year. The goal for Butler and the Heat has to be playing the role of spoiler in the East that fellow star forward Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors did last year.
Kawhi and the Raptors ran through the reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals and then point guard Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
The Heat made moves at the trade deadline to push their title contention case this year. They landed veteran wing Andre Iguodala and forward Jae Crowder from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Heat even tried to make the move to land star big man Danilo Gallinari from the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that deal wound up falling through on the deadline.
However, here’s what Friedell of ESPN had to say in that piece on the subject of Butler in his days with the Bulls compared to now with the Heat.
Butler is having a really good first season in a Heat uniform. He is averaging 20.5 points per game, 6.8 rebounds, and 6.2 assists, while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 83.7 percent from the charity stripe. Butler also has 7.6 win shares on the season so far and a player efficiency rating of 24.2.
The Bulls enter a Feb. 11 showdown against the Washington Wizards with a record of 19-34. Meanwhile, the Heat sit with a record of 35-18. That’s good for fourth place in the East, just behind the Raptors and Boston Celtics. The Heat are looking like the smarter team right now with their play on Butler last summer. The Bulls front office once again looks bad for the way they treated the Butler contract situation nearly three years ago.