Miami Heat: Adding Jimmy Butler would have huge repercussions

PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 25: Jimmy Butler reacts during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SCO Angers at Parc des Princes on August 25, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - AUGUST 25: Jimmy Butler reacts during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and SCO Angers at Parc des Princes on August 25, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images) /

Even if the Miami Heat could keep Josh Richardson and Bam AdebayoJimmy Butler doesn’t fit the team’s current timeline.

Last night, in the Miami Heat’s fifth preseason contest, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo were exactly the players they were supposed to be.

Earlier that day, the same could be said of Jimmy Butler.

Adebayo and Richardson both played in their second preseason game, one that could be chalked up to being generally under the radar as far as NBA matchups go: an interconference game between the Heat and New Orleans Pelicans, a team lacking its star in Anthony Davis.

With Davis, the Pelicans are an undisputed success story.

Davis is a matchup nightmare for every team in the Association, including the Heat. Last February, he posted 45 points against Miami, a season-high in points scored against the Heat.

However, without Davis, the Pelicans are a team trying to find itself amidst the forthcoming battle royale in the Western Conference.

Thus, the Heat duo took total advantage of the circumstances, combining for 51 of Miami’s 140 points (yes, in regulation), while being responsible for 31 percent of the team’s field goal attempts.

Last year, Richardson and Adebayo rarely dominated Miami’s offense as they did yesterday, instead serving as complementary pieces to Miami’s whole.

Of course, part of the duo’s outbreak was the result of the Heat running a thinner lineup than usual: Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellignton, James Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Dwyane Wade, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteisde and Justise Winslow all sat out, either to injury or some much needed rest.

But that Richardson and Adebayo were able to seize their opportunity, is a testament to Miami’s depth and versatility ahead of the coming season.

What about Butler?

While Miami was lighting up the Pelicans, Jimmy Butler was living his best life, too.

Reports surfaced from the Minnesota Timberwolves’ closed practice regarding the man of the hour.

In a turn of events, Butler attended the practice—allegedly only for the scrimmaging portion—and what went down was nothing short of miraculous.

According to ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Butler called out near every member of the Timberwolves readily available roster and staff—no one was untouchable.

Quotable gems include him shouting “You f—ing need me, Scott. You can’t win without me,” to Minnesota general manager Scott Layden, while taking the end of the Wolves’ bench and winning a scrimmage against the team’s starters.

While potentially a disastrous PR move, Butler explained away his actions in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.

"“A lot of it is true,” Butler said of his reported actions. “I haven’t played basketball in so long. I’m so passionate. I don’t do it for any reason but to compete. All my emotion came out in one time. Was it the right way? No! But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing. That’s raw me, me at my finest, me at my purest. Inside the lines.”"

In that instance, Butler’s passion manifested itself in a legendary outburst that, like Richardson and Adebayo, summarized his current role.

Butler is forever known as one of the hardest working men in the NBA.

His life story, which includes bouts of homelessness, has prevented him from taking his newfound wealth and praise for granted. He’s regularly in the NBA’s top-five in minutes per game, again testifying to his ‘leave it on the floor’ mentality.

Those qualities however, are a sticking point in a league often drenched in internet virality.

As much as every player wants to be viewed as the last gym rat leaving the courts, they also have to manage the humanistic side of being a professional athlete, which includes looking like a good teammate and knowing how to maneuver tight situations.

But Butler’s vitriolic honesty in these last few weeks, has pushed back against the business as usual portrayal of NBA athletes.

While his working-class mentality hasn’t jived well in portraying a healthy Timberwolves team, many believe the same would be praised in Miami.

When LeBron James or Shaquille O’Neal took issue with the Heat, the team usually solved the problems behind closed doors and without disrupting the stability of the organization, even strengthening the team’s bond in the process.

If this were five or 10 years ago, that same logic would apply to Butler joining the Heat.

But now, Miami is no longer a team grounded by one-year deals and quick runs at success.

The Heat has embraced its salary cap doldrums, pushing forward with its current roster likely through the turn of the decade.

When James and O’Neal joined the Heat a bevy of new faces followed—Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Antoine Walker. Then, the Heat were grounded by a collective unifying vision, that drew players far and wide to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid.

If Butler were to join now, however, he’d unequivocally be the odd man out.

He would be the focal point for every downswing in Miami’s momentum this season, effectively putting the team’s ‘all for one, one for all’ ideals on the chopping block.

In Minnesota, Butler can call out his teammates, by name even, and hopefully get enough of a rise out of them to inspire better.

He did the same with the Chicago Bulls.

But in Miami, that tactic, which is fundamentally part of Butler’s existence, would be futile and potentially push him to opt out of his remaining contract, in pursuit of the right fit.

Right now, Miami is in a good place.

Not the best place, as the Eastern Conference has a handful of teams whose starting blocks are at least a few meters ahead of Miami’s, but good enough to pose a threat to teams that rest on their laurels.

Butler’s talent would be a godsend for most team’s lucky enough to acquire him.

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But with players like Richardson and Adebayo on the rise, Butler represents a level of variation too risky for Miami.