On the eve of free agency, some teams are tampering their hearts out and already coming to terms with key free agents. Many Sixers fans are hoping to hear “Philadelphia re-signs (insert any of four to five names here)” as soon as the clock hits 6:00pm tomorrow. However, it looks like the free agency status of Jimmy Butler will not be resolved quite so quickly.
Sources: Jimmy Butler expected to meet the Miami Heat in South Fla. Sunday. Butler/Rockets meeting likely early week in LA. Sixers haven’t ruled out working with Butler on sign-and-trades, which Miami and Houston need to acquire the All-Star guard.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2019
Sources: Jimmy Butler plans to meet with the 76ers soon and has interest from other teams with maximum salary space, including the Lakers and Nets, and sign-and-trade possibilities elsewhere.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 29, 2019
Reading the tea leaves, it seems like Butler really wants that fifth year in a new contract, which only the Sixers can offer him. But he is at least considering the Heat and Rockets as better alternatives to staying in Philadelphia (Florida and Texas are both no state income tax states, after all). Miami and Houston are both over the cap, though, so those clubs would need to work out a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia to bring Butler aboard.
Given the Sixers’ presumed preference to keep Butler, if Jimmy wants a sign-and-trade to happen, he would need to create leverage that he could just walk and go somewhere else if the Sixers don’t help him get to Miami or Houston. That’s where the Lakers and Nets meetings (teams with cap space who could sign him to four-year max deals) enter the equation.
I believe Miami has more enticing young pieces if a deal was to be made with one of those clubs, but bringing Butler back is the best move from a basketball standpoint in the short-term. Ultimately, it’s an unfortunate turn of events for the Sixers, because Butler’s free agency dragging on could mean the team misses out on the best alternatives if he decides to head elsewhere. Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen, we may be in for a bumpy free agency ride.