But apparently that wasn’t the only tension between Butler and a Bulls teammate.
Butler and Joakim Noah had their own problems during the 2015-16 season before Noah left for the Knicks the following summer.
The pair had grown very close in Butler’s first few seasons, but, as the season unfolded, it became impossible for the organization to ignore just how much love had been lost between the formerly tight pair. According to multiple sources, Noah and Butler engaged in several heated disagreements throughout that season.
“What happened?” Butler says. “I don’t know. All I can say is, obviously he’s been with me since I was a nobody in this league. And I went about things a lot differently. My voice wasn’t heard. And he’s been with me as I came to be an All-Star as well in this league. And my voice was heard then. And when my voice is heard, I’m going to let it be heard.”
“We’re just different people,” Noah says. “We were always very close; me and Jimmy were always very close, but things change.”
Butler didn’t always feel as if some members of the group were putting in the work that he was. According to multiple sources, one of the things that always irritated Butler, specifically regarding Noah, was the All-Star center’s propensity for showing up late to team activities, setting a poor example for younger players. “Yeah, if they didn’t like the way that I went about things, and I was pissed off because I know how hard I work and I want people to work as hard as I work, I’ll take that,” Butler says now.
After not speaking for more than a year, Noah and Butler patched things up this summer during some training sessions in California, according to sources. Noah says he and Rose still talk about how much they miss some of the good times they had with Thibodeau and their teammates in Chicago.
For a long time, Rose and Noah were the clear leaders in Chicago. They commanded attention on and off the court. Butler took his place below them as a hustle player.
But Butler worked his way into Rose’s and Noah’s class then beyond as Rose (injuries) and Noah (injuries and aging) faltered. That created an awkward dynamic, as Rose and Noah weren’t exactly comfortable with the new power structure. Butler, learning to lead on the fly, wasn’t always delicate in his attempts to assert himself. That was especially damaging while still sharing the court and locker room with Rose and Noah.
Butler earned his place, though. His work ethic is a great example to his teammates, even if he’s harsh in demanding others keep up . If the Bulls embraced him more, they might be in better shape.
Instead, Butler is with the Timberwolves, Noah with the Knicks and Chicago in the basement.
At least Butler and Noah are on better terms now. That’s always nice to hear.