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Jimmy Butler to decline player option as expected, will test free agency

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Philadelphia 76ers v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

It should come as no surprise that Jimmy Butler has elected to decline his player option, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Once Kawhi Leonard eliminated the 76ers with a fade away that bounced around the rim seemingly forever, and Butler had survived the season without any catastrophic injuries, this was all but a foregone conclusion. Haynes’ piece notes that the Sixers have made it clear they intend to do all they can to retain Butler, who was instrumental in the team’s playoff run, where they ultimately battled the champs better than anyone else did during the playoffs and finals.

The piece notes that the Sixers intend to keep Tobias Harris also. Both Butler and Harris earning five year max deals from the team would be an expensive commitment. But given how well they fought the eventual champions in their 7 game series during the Eastern Conference Semi’s, it would be worth the cost. It likely represents the team’s (and perhaps each player’s) best chance at a title in the coming years to stay united with so much talent.

Butler is 29 years old and is a four-time All-Star and clearly has plenty of juice left in the tank. Severe injuries to players like Kevin Durant (ruptured achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL) only amplifies Butler’s standing in the free agent pecking order. Butler should feel very confident he can get a max deal and for a player nearing 30 like he is, the Sixers being able to offer him a 5th year and an extra 50 million dollars could be their biggest advantage to ward off the advances of teams in sexier, bigger markets.

By teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers would have a fearsome four-some in place for years to come, and could afford to stagger their core’s work-loads and minutes to avoid some of the injuries that limited Joel Embiid, and also key superstars on other teams like Durant and Thompson.