All eyes remain trained on Kyle Lowry’s future as the NBA’s free-agency period readies to open at 6 p.m. ET on Monday. Word around the league, at this juncture, is clearly pointing toward the All-Star guard joining Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat via a sign-and-trade with Toronto. The Heat are also expected to sign Butler to a lucrative contract extension, sources told B/R.
Miami has Butler locked in for next season before he has a $37,653,300 player option for 2022-23. This offseason, he will become eligible for a max contract extension projected to be worth about $182 million over four years (including replacing his player-option year with an approximately $41 million salary). That’d be a lot to pay Butler – who has heavy mileage – for his age-33-36 seasons. But Butler is also darned good and has quickly become nearly essential to the Heat.
Does Butler expect Miami to offer that max extension? “I think me and the Heat have an understanding,” Butler said. “I think we have a mutual respect for what each one of us can do for each other. But we’ll see whenever that time gets here. I know I have a job to do, and that’s to win us a championship along with my teammates. So, when the time comes, you’ll know. “I don’t do anything for money. I don’t. It’s all about how somebody values you.”
There were reports of friction between Butler, Towns and Wiggins, but sources say that is not the main reason Butler has decided to move on. Butler was hoping for a renegotiation and extension of his contract this summer, one that would have raised his salary for 2018-19 to $30 million and added another four years and $145 million on to that. But the Timberwolves would have had to cut an enormous amount of salary to pull that off and deemed it unreasonable if they wanted to stay competitive in the near term.
With that off the table, the Wolves offered a four-year, $110 million extension, which was the highest they could go under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. Butler could get a new five-year deal worth $188 million from the Wolves next summer, so he turned that offer down.
Darren Wolfson: #Twolves All-Star Jimmy Butler has officially turned down the Wolves' 4-year, $110M range extension offer, per owner Glen Taylor. Full interview posting soon, which includes stuff on KAT extension talks, Thibs, filling out the roster, and #LosLynx.
Nick Friedell: Thibs on where things stand between T'Wolves and Butler for potential extension: "We know how important Jimmy is to the team. But we don't talk about contract negotiations or anything like that so just get ready for the season."
Albert Nahmad: Jimmy Butler’s $20.4M cap hit for 2018-19 contains both a $1.1M signing bonus allocation and a $604K trade bonus allocation. An extension offer would start at 120% of his $18.7M base salary, and kick in for 2019-20: $22.4M, $24.2M, $26.0M, $27.8M. Total: 4 new years, $100.5M.
Marc Stein: The Timberwolves began free agency by informing star guard Jimmy Butler that they intend to offer him a maximum contract extension valued in the four-year, $110 million range as soon as he's eligible to sign the deal on July 9, league sources say
If Butler signs an extension, it likely will be next summer, when he can become a free agent and sign to stay with the Wolves for considerably more than any other team can pay him. If … “Every day we work at it,” Thibodeau said Thursday. “We know how important he is and we feel he’s one of the best players in the league. So how you manage that on a daily basis is important. I think our communication with him is important.”
Thibodeau made it clear Monday the Wolves’ culture change starts with Butler. He can sign this summer an extension to stay in Minnesota through 2023 before he can opt out of his current contract in summer 2019. “At an appropriate time, we’ll talk to him,” Thibodeau said. “What he did for our organization, we certainly know how important he is and so every day our communication with him is critical. It’s important for him to feel good about everything that we’re doing here.”
In a provision intended to help teams keep their best players, the NBA’s current labor agreement allows the Wolves this summer to negotiate a contract extension with Butler before he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent in summer 2019.
“Jimmy brings a personality and a skill set that is different from some of our other players,” Taylor said. “At least at this point, they don’t have the experience that he has. We found that very helpful to our team this year. He’s a very important part of our future. I’m not sure what they’re thinking and our thinking is. That’s something that will develop as we get into the summer and start talking to Jimmy and his agent.”
September 26, 2021 | 12:48 pm EDT Update
Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.
What do you think of Dillon Brooks as a defender and as a player overall for this team? Ja Morant: Dillon is an important piece to this team offensively and defensively. I’ve been saying a lot now that I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense, especially against some of the top guys. Some of them probably won’t admit it, but I feel like most of the games when they struggled, Dillon was guarding them. Soon, that’ll come that he gets his respect for that. Offensively, how he’s able to score the ball from all three levels is big-time for us.
Speaking of locker rooms, what are the expectations in the locker room for the Grizzlies this season? Where do you guys think you can compete on what type of level? Ja Morant: I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league. We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night. Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.
Granted, all of that stuff is a lot easier to say in the offseason than it is to actually feel when a player is on the outside looking in. But while it could just be a bunch of PR-friendly cliches being spewed, this team also really could be that committed to winning. Ellington certainly thinks so, and during a recent appearance on BallIsLife’s “Noble and Roosh Show,” he also outlined a few other reasons he thinks guys will be all right with not playing as much as they have in the past: “I think we have one of the older rosters, so I think guys are able to be mature about that. We understand that everybody’s not going to be able to play 30 minutes a game, so there’s going to be sacrifice. There’s going to be sacrifices that need to be made, and I think that’s part of the understanding. “But also, understanding that with the older roster, guys aren’t going to be able to play. Guys aren’t going to play every single game. I think you’re going to see sometimes guys get rested and that’s where the ‘Next Man Up’ mentality comes into play.”
It’s why he also likes that the team made sure to add a few younger players as well: “I think it’s a great combination, man, of basketball IQ, championship experience, hunger with the guys wanting more. You got a mix of guys that haven’t won championships who are hungry for championships. You got some young guys in Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk, THT, you got some young guys that are dogs. I think it’s a great mix of veterans and some mid guys and some young guys. I think the roster was constructed beautifully.”
Jonathan Isaac: Misrepresentation only allows for others to attack straw men, and not reason with the true ideas and heart of their fellow man. It helps no one! True journalism is dying! I believe it is your God given right to decide if taking the vaccine is right for you! Period! More to follow
September 26, 2021 | 6:15 am EDT Update
“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”