Jimmy Butler "aggressively challenged" coach Brett Brown

Jimmy Butler is back at it in Philadelphia.More

Jimmy Butler is back at it in Philadelphia.More

76ers shooting guard Jimmy Butler has challenged coach Brett Brown over his role in the team's offense, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.

Butler has emerged as the team's closer since his arrival, knocking down two game-winners against the Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets and is averaging 18 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game.

"During the film session in Portland, ESPN reported Butler's protest of Brown and the system rose to a level some in attendance viewed as "'disrespectful' and beyond normal player-coach discourse".

However, Brown reportedly told sources that he had no issues with Butler in the film session.

The Sixers acquired Butler after an ugly few months of public trade demands, passive-aggressive (and sometimes just straight aggressive) feuding with the Minnesota Timberwolves front office.

League sources told ESPN that they are anxious about Butler's ability to fit in with the Sixers and if he can stay with the team long-term. Nevertheless, the franchise's full focus and resources remain on making this new partnership work this season and beyond.

The Sixers are now 25-14 and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Brown, who signed a contract extension in the offseason, remains a popular figure with ownership and management. The second is whether Butler will be a Sixer next year with "yes" more likely at -180 and "no" at +160.

Brown talks often about the challenge of growing his group of young stars together into a championship-level team, in the same way San Antonio (where he'd been assistant on coach Gregg Popovich's staff) did with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

Butler missed the team's last game against the Phoenix Suns as well as their practice on Friday with an upper respiratory infection, and is now listed as questionable for their next game against the Dallas Mavericks. Fultz's future with the team, or as a basketball player actually, is completely up in the air.

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