Kendall Gill: Jimmy Butler's Behavior Unprofessional, Disrespectful

Butler is a hard worker, Gill says, but his behavior this preseason was unprofessional and disrespectful

Taz and the Moose
October 29, 2018 - 7:45 am

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Almost overnight, things went from bad to worse to dumpster fire in Minnesota, as Jimmy Butler demanded a trade and went off on teammates, coaches, and executives at practice last week.

Isn’t it surprising that Butler would do this to head coach Tom Thibodeau?

“I’m very surprised about it because Jimmy had an All-Star year under him once again,” former NBA player and current NBC Sports Bulls analyst Kendall Gill said on Taz & The Moose. “And actually, I think Jimmy should be grateful for Thibs. If it weren’t for Thibs here in Chicago, who knows what Jimmy Butler turns into?"

Indeed, Butler, the 30th overall pick in 2011, went from bench warmer to starter to All-Star in Chicago. Thibodeau played a key role in that.

“One thing about Thibodeau: he give his players the opportunity to play,” Gill said. “He gives you a lot of minutes, and he settles on a rotation so you know your role. I think that was one of the key things to why Jimmy Butler became Jimmy Butler. For Jimmy to go into this preseason and behave the way that he has, I think it’s totally disrespectful to Thibs.”

Butler, 29, averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 59 games for Minnesota last season, helping the Timberwolves reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004. It was a great story – right until it wasn’t.

Butler berated teammates, coaches, and front-office personnel at practice last week, yelling that they “need” Butler in order to win.

“I believe that going into practice last week and doing what he did, telling the GM that you can’t F’ing win without me, you need me, and then berating the players – you can handle it better than that,” Gill said. “That’s not professional. I know that he had a meeting with Thibs and told him, ‘Look, I want to be traded,’ but you still have to act like a professional because this is what we get paid to do.”

Minnesota traded for Butler in June 2017 to provide veteran leadership to a young squad featuring Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, among others.

Needless to say, Butler hasn’t set a great example.

“Here’s the thing,” Gill said. “I respect Jimmy to the utmost because of his work ethic in Chicago. He made himself into a four-time All-Star and, I believe, a top-15 player. So, yes, Jimmy, you worked hard. Yes, probably nobody else works like you. But the bottom line is this: You have not won anything. As the face of the franchise here in Chicago for three years, he made the playoffs twice, and he never got his team out of the first round of the playoffs. He didn’t get his team out of the first round of the playoffs last year against the Houston Rockets.”

The Rockets beat the Timberwolves in five games last April en route to reaching the Western Conference Finals for the third time in four seasons.

“So in order for you to command that respect that you’re seeking, you have to win,” Gill said. “Winning is everything in the NBA. You’ve got to win in order to command that respect.”