Of the two superstar wing players rumored to be on the market at the 2017 NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers have been decidedly more connected to Paul George, who is reportedly “still hell-bent” on heading to L.A.
Jimmy Butler on the other hand is already in Los Angeles, but in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live he made it sound like he’s much less anxious than George to get into a Lakers uniform (h/t Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune).
"Everywhere I go, especially here in LA, everybody goes 'oh he's coming to the Lakers, he's in LA,'" Butler said, which caused Kimmel to ask the natural follow-up.
"You're not coming to the Lakers? Why aren't you coming to the Lakers?" Kimmel said.
It’s a natural question from a Lakers fan. George would make an unbelievable addition for the Lakers, as he’s easily a top-20 player and would instantly be their best wing player since Kobe Bryant, but like Bryant, it sounds like for now he wants to stay with the only team he’s ever played for.
"Because I love Chicago so very much,” Butler said in response to Kimmel’s query. “They took a chance on me in 2011 with the 30th pick so I'm forever grateful for that."
When Kimmel told Butler he actually likes that he’s showing loyalty to Chicago, Butler showed off his dry wit.
“I feel like you just insulted me, you’re saying you’re a Lakers fan and I’m not good enough to play for the Lakers,” Butler joked, which led to him again confirming he hasn’t been convinced to join the purple and gold.
"All right then, come to the Lakers. This is really good reverse psychology I'm using on you right here,” Kimmel said.
"It's not working," Butler responded, breaking the hearts of all the people that have already photoshopped him into a Lakers jersey.
In all seriousness, Butler not going on national TV right after game one of the NBA Finals and demanding a trade to the Lakers is hardly a surprise. He really could be loyal, but this could also be what he has to say.
There is also the reality, which Butler acknowledged, that ultimately it’s up to Chicago if they want to trade him. If the Bulls ever do decide to put him on the market, the Lakers are primed with as many assets as basically any team other than the Boston Celtics to potentially get a deal done. If Butler becomes available and Los Angeles pursues him, it wouldn’t be shocking if he started to change his tone.
If he doesn’t, Lakers fans can just blame Kimmel for telling him to be loyal. At least I think that’s how this works, right?
You can watch the full exchange with Kimmel below:
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.