What better way to kick off NBA All Star Weekend than a national radio interview with Jimmy Butler? The Bulls star chatted with the guys of ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike on Friday morning. Of course, they had to get the elephant in the room out of the way first. Butler reaffirmed what he said after his two free throws gave Chicago a 104-103 victory over the Celtics Thursday night: Marcus Smart definitely fouled him. Got him on the elbow.
…We’ll let that debate sit for now. Let’s get to the more pertinent questions Jimmy answered about where he and the Bulls stand at the All Star break.
Tune Out Trades
Former NBA star Jalen Rose, who was in studio with Mike & Mike, asked Butler how he deals with the trade rumors that are swirling around his name as the deadline approaches. The answer is one Bulls fans have heard before:
“That’s easy. I don’t really pay attention to any of it. Like I always tell everybody, I try to control what I can control. That’s one thing that’s way out of my control. I think if I continue to win games for this organization, then I’ll be there. If not, then I think they must do what they have to do.” – Jimmy Butler
The latest gossip about a potential deal sending Butler to the Celtics has died down. Based on numerous sources, the Bulls would demand too much in any Butler trade, and he will remain in Chicago for the rest of the season.
What Happens Now?
Rose then asked Jimmy what the team’s expectations are for after the All Star break, given all of the turbulence through the first 57 games. Jimmy made sure not to say anything about a playoff run.
“To be better. I think that’s what everybody wants. That’s what everybody needs from us. We’ve had some ups, we’ve had some downs. That’s just how the season goes, that’s how basketball goes. I think everybody’s bought in. I think everybody learned from it and everybody accepted it. So if we keep rolling, winning games like we went into this break we’ll be just fine afterwards.” – Jimmy Butler
The win over Boston pulled the Bulls within a half game of .500 at 28-29. They’re just one game back of the Pacers for the 6th seed, and two games clear of Milwaukee in 9th. Getting back to the playoffs looks very possible if Gar Forman and John Paxson don’t make any drastic moves before the deadline. If the standings in the East remain similar to today, the Bulls would likely face Cleveland, Boston or Washington in the first round.
Mike Greenberg mentioned that there’s been a lot of talk from the outside about the Bulls not all being on the same page this season. The front office, coach Fred Hoiberg, the three alphas, the young guys, etc. So, Greeny asked Butler flat out: is everyone finally on the same page now? Jimmy must’ve been caught off guard by the question, because it took him a few seconds to respond.
“…Uuuh, it could be. I don’t know. I won’t lie to you. But it looks that way when everybody’s winning. Like I’ve always said, when you win everybody looks good. Everything looks okay. It’s when you lose and you hit adversity, that’s when all the questions pop up. That’s when all the rumors pop up, and that’s when everybody has a problem with everybody. But when you win, everything looks great.” – Jimmy Butler
That sounds like a not-so-subtle admission that everyone isn’t on the same page. Butler pauses, like he’s trying to figure out a way to answer the question without getting himself in trouble. Then the best he can come up with is, “I won’t lie to you.” That’s basically a no. He then reuses one of his favorite phrases; one he used a lot when posed questions about his rift with Derrick Rose last season. When you’re winning, everything’s fine. When you lose, that’s when problems and rumors pop up. Well, the mediocre Bulls have done plenty of losing this season.
Something tells me Butler isn’t convinced that his team’s two game winning streak before the break solved all of their issues from top to bottom.
At least everyone has some time off now to regroup. Jimmy can enjoy a little getaway as he’ll be living it up with the league’s brightest stars down in New Orleans. You think he’ll get any hard-hitting questions about the Bulls locker room from his Olympic team buddies? Probably not. Enjoy yourself, Jimmy. You deserve it. And you’ll be right back in the thick of a tumultuous Bulls season when it’s over; trying not to reveal too much when the media asks you what’s going on with your team.