Jimmy Butler understands Joel Embiid’s unhappiness.
The 76ers star center said earlier this week he was frustrated by his role in the team’s offense since it acquired Butler from the Timberwolves in mid-November. Butler was asked about Embiid’s comments when he met with reporters Sunday.
“I know where his heart is. His heart is pure. He wants to win,” Butler said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I could feel for him. It’s new for myself, it’s new to him. It’s new to everybody. But we’re ok. I know he wants to win.
“We need him, long term. He’s been doing a lot on both ends of the floor for this team. That’s our best player. I can understand being frustrated. … We’ll figure out a way to make sure he’s always successful.”
Embiid, who was held out of the 76ers win over the Pistons on Friday for rest, has averaged 26.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game this season. But he has shot just 29 percent from 3-point range, which is the source of his frustration.
“I haven’t been myself lately,” Embiid told the Inquirer. “I think it’s mainly because of the way I’ve been used, which is I’m being used as a spacer, I guess, a stretch five, which I’m only shooting (29) percent (from the 3-point line).
“But it seems like the past couple games, like with the way I play, our setup, (Philadelphia coach Brett Brown) always has me starting on the perimeter … and it just really frustrates me. My body feels great, and it’s just I haven’t been playing well.”
Brown said Sunday “it’s a natural reaction” for Embiid to want more touches in the post.
“At times, it’s true. He needs the ball,” Brown said. “He can get the ball, from time to time, more than maybe he does. … It’s a natural response, maybe driven at times out of the frustration of a loss, but it’s not anything that is new to me.
The 76ers will host the Pistons on Monday. They’ll carry an 18-9 record into that matchup.