The Sixers They were defeated at home in the Eastern Conference semi-finals for the second consecutive season. They fell 4-2 to Eric Spoelstra Miami Heat. It was a familiar face, former Jimmy Butler sextant, who did the most damage.
JB put on a clinic, averaging 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 dimes in the series. Due to Joel Embiid’s injury condition, the KIA MVP 2022 runner-up (for the second season in a row) was unable to maintain the level of dominance that fans were accustomed to while playing through a broken orbital bone and a torn shooting thumb. While Tobias Harris was a star in the first round defending Pascal Siakam, neither Toby nor any sexiers were last game for Jimmy Buckets.
The hardest part of it all is wondering what it would have been if the Sixers had found a way to sign Butler over the long term three summers ago.
The Sixers traded for Butler again at the start of the 2018-2019 season.
But they didn’t do enough to convince him to stay, Even if you failed to give him the maximum contract, making him the biggest “what if” of the post-op era? Instead, the team executed a signing and trading to bring in Josh Richardson, spending the remaining cover space on Al Horford. It was evident in the embarrassing 2019-20 season how disappointed Embiid was that he had lost his best teammate (and favourite) ever.
After the season ended in defeat, the ESPN broadcast met Butler who had just shared a moment with his former teammate. Jorge Sedano asked Butler what message he had sent to Embiid, after Miami won 99-90.
Jimmy Butler on what he said to Joel Embiid after the match:
“I love him. I’m proud of him. I still wish I could be on his team. I definitely love the Miami Heat, though… I’ve got a lot of respect and love for Joel Embiid.” pic.twitter.com/jeLQme8zjt
– Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) May 13, 2022
“I love him,” Butler said. “I’m proud of him. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I still wish I could be on his team. I definitely love the Miami Heat though. I’m glad to be here, but I’ve got a lot of respect and love for Joel Embiid.”
Butler said he thinks Embiid deserves a better player ahead of the series, too. It’s bittersweet to see how much mutual respect there is between these two stars.
Two days ago , ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne snuck this little piece of information into a report In this Sixers-Heat series about the 2019 overseas season:
“Finally it got to the point where the organization felt it needed to choose from. [Butler and Ben Simmons]According to team sources, she chose Simmons. He was younger, and at that time his ceiling seemed to be higher …
How would the NBA look different if the Sixers had chosen Butler over Simmons? Could they have kept both after losing the agonizing Game 7 to Toronto and forcing them to coexist? “
The key here for me is that Sixers They felt they needed To choose between Butler and Ben Simmons. I have my doubts that the team rolled out the red carpet (I’m talking about serious grooming, head coach selection, forward role, etc) and the $200 million max Jimmy signed him and then all of a sudden Simmons was going to turn down his own $170 million offer to run the rookie deal valued at $8 million. All you have to do is convince them to give it a try, and if they’re not happy, go back to exploring the trades in a year’s time. Take our money, please, we’ll find out.
Joel Embiid on Jimmy Butler: “I still don’t know how we let him go.”
– Paul Hudrick May 13, 2022
But the Sixers front office was a mess in those days. The big buzzword they used was doing things “cooperatively”, and we’ve even seen reports like this:
The # blenders previous interview # kavs GM David Griffin for the GM job vacancy this summer, but he felt he wasn’t a good fit for their front office structure, according to one #NBA source. They want to make collaborative decisions rather than the general manager who will have the final say. pic.twitter.com/xEXRGLMiTj
– Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) September 6, 2018
One way or another, the Sixers eventually committed the cardinal sin and didn’t enable Embiid to say more in building the roster. Joel would probably push to keep Butler and Riddick, but I never felt like they did everything they could to try to appease him and carry on. His leg is NBA-caliber.
It’s a small consolation to know that Butler still loves Embiid and wishes he was his teammate. But it’s at least something. Knowing how JB feels might make it a little easier for him to defeat other villains in the future series who might not respect Embiid as much.