If the Chicago Bulls want to have a successful season, Jimmy Butler will have to be at his best. The Bulls will rely heavily on the two-time NBA All-Star, as he looks to continue to improve his game, while proving others wrong.
Last season, Jimmy Butler was in the middle of a ton of locker room controversy with some of his Bulls teammates. Several rumors were swirling about the discord behind closed doors in the Bulls’ organization.
Many of the issues were centered around how Jimmy Butler rose to the top of the Chicago Bulls’ hierarchy chart, as a couple of incumbent stars were being phased out. It has left some harsh feelings and a stench that will go on throughout this NBA season. Instead of internal strife, this season expect the griping to come from the Bulls and New York Knicks.
The Chicago Bulls’ locker room has been revamped considerably. Many of the players from last season’s Bulls team are gone. Three of them, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Justin Holiday, are with the Knicks. From the trio of former Chicago Bulls, Holiday is the only player with no ill feelings towards Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler shrugs off idea he’s a “diva” https://t.co/kDz05q7vJA
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) October 22, 2016
Jimmy Butler was called a diva by two of his former Bulls teammates, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. It was reported that neither Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah agreed with how Butler went about taking control of the Bulls’ locker room. It is a designation that Butler somewhat disagrees with.
“Am I a diva? I don’t call it that. My will to win rubs people the wrong way sometimes. I can blame it on that, but won’t apologize for it. Never will.
“As far as that talk goes, I don’t care. I’m going to keep working and if people don’t like it, people want to say what they want to say, that’s fine. I know, and I think these guys know, where my heart is and how I want to do right by everybody.”
Jimmy Butler knows that the target is on his back this season. And Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah are not around to place blame on any of his, or the Chicago Bulls, failures.
What would be a successful Bulls year is a playoff berth and a third All-Star appearance for Butler. Anything short of that is a failure. It is just how Butler wanted. After working his way into stardom, he wants to have his imprints on the Bulls. Some of the Bulls’ changes were made with his input.
— Chris De Luca (@ChrisDeLuca) October 20, 2016
That would include the signings of Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. Both players whom Butler recruited to the Chicago Bulls. The three of them together make the Bulls an intriguing team and a force in the Eastern Conference if they can stay healthy and on the same page. Playing with Wade and Rondo has been a positive learning experience, as Butler told the Galesburg Registered Mail.
“I can learn from (Wade and Rondo), the winning culture they’ve built. I’m excited because there’s so much growth I can handle in that aspect of the game. You look at what Wade has done for his career, a future Hall of Famer. I think that I can model the way I do things around him.”
Those same sentiments may not have been shared last season. Again, the Bulls were a mess last season. And instead of playing together, there was a lot of division.
If the Bulls are a harmonious team it will become apparently clear early on. Few expect the Bulls to be contenders for the Eastern Conference crown, although besides the Cleveland Cavaliers, every other team is beatable. Dispelling doubts about chemistry will be Jimmy Butler’s first challenge.
If Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo can stay healthy and have renaissance years, the Bulls could be as good as the second best team in the East. Everything still rests on Jimmy Butler’s shoulders, though.
As he goes, the Chicago Bulls will go. It will help if Jimmy Butler’s new, more accomplished teammates do not look at him as a diva. Eliminating that type of dissension will help, not hurt the Chicago Bulls. And it will add some spice to a budding Bulls and Knicks rivalry.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]