The Chicago Bulls lost a 105-96 overtime burner to the Utah Jazz on Monday night, the fifth stop of the Bulls’ current ten-game road trip. In the loss, Jimmy Butler played 47 minutes and finished with 27 points, seven boards, and six assists.
The night before, in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Butler logged 37 minutes.
On the surface, this is nothing out of the ordinary as Butler has been tops in the NBA in minutes played the past three seasons. But when you work your ass off like Jimmy does every single night and nothing seems to change – as in the Bulls repeatedly losing games they shouldn’t – you’d be pissed too.
Nobody cares pic.twitter.com/SiWQe171Bh
— Joshua A. Vinson (@TheJoshAVinson) February 2, 2016
The Bulls are still the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference and this is easily their toughest remaining road trip; but they’re only 3.5 games from being on the outside looking in and have the lowest point differential (0.2) of any current East playoff team.
Thus, Jimmy Butler feels like his services this season – a.k.a. him breaking out and becoming a no-brainer All-Star – aren’t really being used for shit.
And this makes Jimmy Butler very aggravated.
There are varying issues with his teammates, coaches and the front office – but like we said back in November: Jimmy Butler is where you look to get the real pulse of this Bulls team. And as he made pretty clear above, that pulse is one of frustration and disappointment.
Butler wants more.
He wants to win big, but the Bulls don’t have the talent or on-court leadership to do that. He wants to take this team as far as he can, but they can’t establish any sort of rhythm.
January was Derrick Rose’s best month of the season, but the Bulls are 5-1 (only losing @ the Warriors) without him. In those six games, Jimmy Butler has scored 53, 42, 32, 28, 28, and 23.
Clearly, the Bulls are a more talented team with Rose on the floor. But thanks to his periodic absences, it seems the Bulls haven’t figured out how to consistently play well with him and Butler on the court together.
The Bulls are 3-6 since losing Joakim Noah for the season, but they also went on a 7-2 run without him earlier in the year. Noah and Rose, of course, are the former voices of the long gone Bulls teams that clinched consecutive Eastern Conference regular season titles.
With both of them battling varying degrees of injury and offensive consistency issues, the young stallion Butler has tried to muscle himself and the Bulls right through it – all while getting to know a new coach.
But his team can’t seem to play like a team, thus leaving him out to dry with empty stat lines night after night. The front office doesn’t seem to understand that the current construct of this roster can’t win consistently together no matter who the coach is.
And no matter how tired and beaten Jimmy is, his coaching staff keeps sending him out there. Perhaps because they have no other choice, which is just a summation of all three issues.
It’s a toxic, pressure-filled mess of talent, ego, and expectations.
Because the Bulls have big names and used to be an NBA Finals contender, fans and media alike expect more. And because the Bulls do have a talented roster, they still put themselves in a position to warrant those expectations.
It is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.
For awhile now, many have accepted the increasingly obvious fact that the Bulls won’t be contending for an NBA title this season.
But after their latest dumbfounding loss, it seems that thought might have finally crossed their best player’s mind too.