A lot of bad news has circled around the 76ers lately, prompting speculation that the negative PR might hamper the franchise moving forward. As for now, it would seem that concern might be moot, with the Sixers reportedly garnering the chance to meet with free agent forward Jimmy Butler.
The report comes from ESPN's Chris Broussard, which places Philadelphia among an interesting mix of teams:
Sources: After CHI offered @JimmyButler max 5/$90-plus Mon, JB postponed meeting w/LAL, BOS, PHI, DAL. JB deciding how many yrs 2 sign w/CHI— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 30, 2015
Whether or not signing Butler was a realistic proposition, getting a meeting with a free agent of that caliber is a win in and of itself. There's been a lot of speculation that agents are trying to steer clients away from the Sixers, but at least in this instance, cash is still king.
Assuming things hold steady elsewhere, Butler was/is the best wing on the market that had a reasonable chance to swap teams. The Bulls have long held a reputation as a franchise who undermined the accomplishments of their talent -- see Jerry Krause's "organizations win championships" riff -- and a reported aversion to paying the luxury tax on top of that. Add on reported friction with Bulls guard Derrick Rose, and you have what would appear to be the perfect storm for a restricted free agent to leave his current team.
Chicago's willingness to present Butler with a five-year max offer all but confirms that he'll be staying with the Bulls, though Philadelphia's involvement in the discussion is encouraging to say the least. It's very possible a meeting with the team is just public exploitation of their gobs of cap space, but these are the opportunities you hold onto that money for.
Butler would improve the Sixers immediately and drive a stake through the idea the franchise is only interested in "kicking the can" down the road. At age 25, he would fit the Sixers focus on youth while still offering a significant upgrade on the wing. Having shouldered increased responsibility in Rose's absence the last few seasons, Butler has evolved from a three-and-D player to a legitimate offensive playmaker.
The work ethic that got him to that point would endear him to the Sixers staff and fans, and perhaps most importantly make him a tremendous role model for the culture the franchise is trying to build. Butler's workout regiment last summer, as told to SI's Ben Golliver:
I wanted to be so good at the game that we didn't have cable, we didn't have the Internet, he recalled. Whenever we got bored, all we would do is go to the gym. We'd eat, sleep and go to the gym. We'd go three times a day because we didn't have anything else to do. We were sitting on the couch, looking at each other, saying, ‘What the hell are we going to do all day?'
Don't get too excited about the possibility of obtaining Jimmy Buckets, with the meetings allegedly on the shelf for the time being. Sam Hinkie's involvement in the sweepstakes, however, is something to rejoice. Team brass has stressed repeatedly that they'll do what it takes to move the program forward and obtain star players, and doing their due diligence on top-tier free agents is a good place to start.