Jimmy Butler sounds ready for another reunion with Tom Thibodeau.
Playing under the new Knicks coach in Chicago and Minnesota, Butler – who credited Thibodeau with his progress from the last first round pick to the five-hour All-Star – said he believed young RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson could make a similar development to Thibodeau’s teachings.
“He’s going to do great. He’s going to the boys with some real players; some superstars, some All-Stars,” Butler said of Thibodeau. “I know he’s itching for it. I know he’s getting ready for it. When you talk about the Thibs and the big stage, I think they̵7;re together.”
After four seasons together in Chicago – where Butler went from average two points per game as a rookie to 20 points in 2014-15 – Thibodeau, as coach and president of basketball operations, brought to Butler in Minnesota in a 2017 trade. At the time, the pair helped make the Timberwolves’ first playoff in 14 years.
However, Butler’s disappointment with the team led to a trade request before the next training camp, which led to the firing of Thibodeau in his third season as coach. After landing in Philadelphia, Butler accepted the blame for how the situation opened up.
“I’ll answer everything. I’m sure he’ll say he’ll take it too,” Butler said last year. “But like I said to everyone, the Thibs are a big part – and you can tell I’m smiling because this is the truth – who I am now as a player. He gave me a chance after he would not let me play all my first few years. But then he saw something in me and let me stand a little. “
However, distance made Butler’s heart beat faster. Last year, Butler also acknowledged the challenge of playing for the famous intense coach, suggesting that style is more appropriate for college basketball.
“Hell yes it’s different,” Butler said. “[Butler’s former coach] Buzz Williams, like the Thibs in the sense that they will tell you, they will go to the mother – you, they will all say, that is how they talk. I think in the league you can’t really talk like no other. You know what I mean? “