But on June 30, there was no five-year maximum offer for Butler, multiple sources say. Perhaps the Sixers pivoted after learning of Horford’s interest in joining. Perhaps they were concerned about tension between Butler and some within the team, including on the coaching staff. Maybe those two things were interrelated. Like every team chasing Butler, they probably wondered how he would age.
They have so many coaches, Brown took the unusual step of excising some — the player development group, some strength and conditioning personnel — from his film sessions. That decision tears at Brown. “I don’t feel right about it,” Brown says. “I want the young coaches to hear my voice. But you reach a point where there are just too many people.” Team sources insist the decision is unrelated to leaks last January about Butler questioning Brown at a film session.)
Butler didn’t publicly weep or need any heartfelt consoling, as Joel Embiid did in the immediate aftermath of that shot. But the pain was just the same, if not more, because Butler had never been closer to a possible ring at any other point in his first eight seasons in the NBA. “It just goes to show you how fragile life is. Not just basketball. Life,” Butler said in an interview with The Athletic. “How things can change in an instant, in the snap of a finger and it hurts because you think about what could’ve been. What happens if we win that game? Do we win a championship? Am I in Philly? All of these ifs. Who knows?
“I don’t give a damn. I don’t,” Butler continued. “I ain’t battling a rep. If you’re one of my teammates, you know better than that. That’s the part that helps me cope with it all. If you played with me, ask my teammates that, like, we fuck with each other. If you don’t like me, you don’t like me. But to say that I was on your team and I did some bullshit to you? Nah. I was on some team and I didn’t have your back? Nah. That’s just not how I operate. It’s just not who I am. That’s why I don’t worry about nothing. I want all my teammates to be happy. If you feel like you don’t have a voice. I know somebody that got a voice. And his voice is loud. It may be taken as being challenging. It may be taken as being a team cancer. That individual is OK with it, because I know that you my teammate. You my guy. I’m rocking with you. I’ve always been like that. I’m always going to be like that.”