NBA Rumors: Jimmy Butler To Demand Trade If Heat Exit Playoffs Early

The Miami Heat finished as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But it wasn't exactly a smooth ride. And according to a new report in The Athletic, the ride could get a lot bumpier if the Heat fail to make a deep run in the playoffs. 

Joe Vardon is reporting that "rival players speculated that Butler, worn down by the demands of Heat 'culture', could seek a trade if it doesn’t work out this spring." 

And Vardon takes it one step further, telling us that rival executives "even began to speculate that in the event of an early playoff exit, the Heat could look to move on from Butler, which is bonkers to even consider, given the three-year, $146 million contract extension they signed him to last summer."

Ugly sideline incident pitted Butler against head coach

This all stems from an ugly, and very public courtside incident in the middle of a game near the end of the season, when head coach Erik Spoelstra and Butler were embroiled in a screaming match on the bench, which then spilled onto the court, and Spoelstra proceeded to slam a clipboard to the floor to help make his point. 

That didn't seem like the "Heat culture" that we've always heard about. 

This wouldn't be the first time that Butler has bailed on a situation that wasn't to his liking, of course. He tormented the Minnesota Timberwolves relentlessly until they traded him in 2018 to the Philadelphia 76ers. He then wanted out of Philly after they were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in the 2nd round that season, and left as a free agent to take his talents to South Beach.

The Heat still don't know their first-round opponent in this coming week's playoffs. They will face the 8-seed, which could be any of the Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets or Atlanta Hawks. 

As noted by Vardon, "the playoffs are, in part, a fight for Jimmy Butler and Miami to save their relationship."

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