In Philadelphia, fans are trying to read the tea leaves to figure out what Jimmy Butler is thinking. Does he want to come back to the Sixers and chase titles with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? Those three did seem to develop real chemistry this season and especially through the playoffs.
Or, does he want to play in New York? Or with LeBron James in Los Angeles? Where is Butler’s head at right now?
Thursday night, Butler posted this on Instagram:
It is a simple post saying thank you to fans and teammates, one liked by Embiid and a lot of other players.
However, the “thank you for everything” post is also something we commonly see from players leaving town.
Which is why in Philadelphia this was seen as cryptic and had some fans freaking out.
— Mare Schul (@mareschul) May 17, 2019
@JimmyButler what can we do to keep you playing in philly? We love you here
— lauren (@lauren_okomski) May 17, 2019
If you Jimmy Butler leaves the Sixers I think my heart will shatter into a million pieces
— crawford.26 (@connor_1312) May 17, 2019
That is just a taste of the online reaction. Not surprisingly, Philly fans feel comfortable assuming the worst.
Maybe Butler’s post is just what it says it is on face value, a thank you to fans and teammates because he enjoyed his Philadelphia experience. No doubt in the next few days Butler will say something along those lines (or his agent will leak it). That’s how the game is played.
However, Butler will have options when he becomes a free agent. As will Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick. Keeping all of them together in Philadelphia and managing all those egos will not be easy. These playoffs Philadelphia showed they are a team on the cusp of contending, but that last step up the mountain is the hardest one, and the work falls to Elton Brand and the front office.