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“I Knew I Wasn’t Going to Be There”

Jimmy Butler sits down with Bill Simmons and tells the story of the day he found out he was being traded to Minnesota

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

For the first time in his professional career, Jimmy Butler will suit up for a team that isn’t the Bulls. Though he’s reunited with Tom Thibodeau, the move from Chicago to Minnesota is a big one. On the latest Bill Simmons Podcast, he told the story of the day he was traded. It includes Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, and one bizarre game of spades.

"I was in Paris, the night that it happened," Butler begins. "We were playing some cards — me, Melo, Gab, D-Wade. I’m not going to talk about the outcome of the game because everybody has a different story, obviously."

Wait, everybody has a different story … about the card game?

"Some people say that I won. I would say that I won. The other team may say that I lost. I have to deal with it all the time. I’m just going to say it was a great game of spades. It was."

Then Butler got a phone call.

"And my agent called me, and he said, ‘Hey, I think you’re about to get moved to Minnesota.’ And I said, ‘OK, cool. I’m going to get back to my spades game.’ Because I can’t really control [a trade]. It’s out of my control. I try to control what I can control. … And then he calls me [again], ‘You just got traded to Minnesota.’"

Butler’s reaction was a positive one from the jump.

"Right then and there I was like, ‘Hey, we’ve got some really good, young guys. I’m back with Thibs. Let’s do what we always do. We’re going to continue to get better every single summer, and we’re going to go about it that same way. Just now I’m wearing different colors.’"

All offseason, rumors flew about what would happen to Jimmy Butler, but he wasn’t paying attention.

"There are always rumors. So it’s kind of like, why really listen to it? Because it came up I was going to Boston. I was going to Cleveland. I was going to Minnesota. I was going here or going there. So it’s kind of like, you know, they would ask me, ‘What do you think?’ I don’t know, I don’t really pay attention to it. I hear it because I’ve got enough guys around me saying, ‘Did you see what came out today?’ Well, ‘No, I don’t read that. I’ve got better things to do with my time than sit there on the internet.’"

So he’s with Wade at the time. Wade, now Butler’s former teammate, sticks out on a Bulls team that seems to be entering a complete rebuild. Did the news affect Wade’s Parisian vacation at all?

"D-Wade is a Hall of Famer. I think he’s going to be just fine. … And he’s going to go out there and compete. I’m not going to say the outcome of that competition, but he’s going to go out there and try to help his team win."

What about Carmelo, who is currently embroiled in his own trade rumors? It was helpful having Melo there.

"Fortunately, I got to train with [Melo] a little bit, pick his brain. Because obviously he had been traded before. He’s been through this whole process. It was new to me. It was shocking at first. But then it settled in, and it’s like, it’s a business. You can’t act like you didn’t know eventually that this was going to happen. I may not have known that it was going to happen that day, but let’s be honest. I knew I wasn’t going to be there."

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.