NBA Rumor: Jimmy Butler Free Agency

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Like all Los Angeles Lakers fans, swingman Josh Hart would love for the team to bring in a few more superstars to join LeBron James to start next season. The Lakers have had their eye on Anthony Davis since the trade deadline, but Hart went a different route. On The Eavesdrop Podcast, Hart said that he is hoping the Purple and Gold will be able to sign Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler and Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving in free agency. “S—, I hope we get a couple free agents. I hope we get a super team or some s—. I hope we get, s—, Jimmy, Kyrie. There’s no tampering for the players, so s—, I hope we get Jimmy, Kyrie… Just imagine if we had that. Like bro, and the thing is, all those dudes are good dudes, so everyone would sacrifice for each other. And people don’t realize, when everyone sacrifices and the team wins at the end of the day, that’s the biggest thing.”

The Dallas Mavericks are constantly linked to Jimmy Butler. The media created a tie when he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The media has done the same now that he’s been dealt from Minny to Philadelphia, where the Sixers small forward is about to enter July 1 free agency. Again and again and again … Maybe because he’s from Texas? Maybe because he’s a small forward and that’s a need? Maybe because he’s an All-Star and he’s just that good? But book this: Jimmy Butler, so often disgruntled, so often at the center of team turbulence, so often ball-dominant to the point of selfishness, will not be a Dallas priority this summer. And the reason is Luka Doncic.

But the Mavs’ view on Butler (assuming he declines his 2019-20 player option, something he is expected to do) is that he would not pair well with Doncic, that he wouldn’t share well, that he wouldn’t “play nice with others” here … all of which would, in their eyes, stunt the growth of the young franchise centerpiece. […] If Jimmy Butler was just dying to come here, the Mavs, I think, would have to reconsider their position. Are they really good enough to snub an All-Star? But in the end, Dallas’ thoughts here are written in pen, and are unlikely to be erased: The Mavs want to acquire a third star (or better, a star even better than Luka and Kristaps Porzingis), but that third star must come with a credential that promises he’ll help propel Luka Doncic’s development rather than stunt it. For the Mavs, Jimmy Butler is not that right guy.

Sixers maxing out Jimmy Butler?

The Philadelphia 76ers are heading toward a very important offseason where they will have to decide how to handle the free agency of mid-season acquisitions Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on his podcast The Hoop Collective, rival executives around the league believe the Sixers will max out Butler. I’ve been talking to some executives this week and the executives, I think, now believe that the Sixers will. I don’t know about the fifth year, like, full guaranteed, but yeah.

But contrary to viral speculation, Boylen did not have dinner with Butler at La Scarola, which would be a violation of tampering rules as Butler is still under contract to Philadelphia. According to a source, Boylen instead dined with new lead assistant Chris Fleming while the Golden State Warriors completed their sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference Finals. Boylen and Butler crossed paths in the small restaurant as the coaches were were departing and Butler and his party were arriving. The men briefly exchanged pleasantries and went their separate ways. The grainy photo does depict the mutual respect between Butler and Boylen. But a preemptive strike in free agency, it does not.

One source close to Harris’ camp explained how Tobias likes his role in Philadelphia, but the idea of returning home is something he will likely consider this summer. Other names have been mentioned, such as Jimmy Butler, who put the Nets atop his list of destinations when demanding a trade out of Minnesota. Similar to Tobias, a source close to Kemba Walker said the star point guard is intrigued by the idea of coming back to play in his home state — including both the Knicks and Nets.

When Butler formally requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves one week before training camp in September, his initial list of preferred destinations at the time did not include the Philadelphia 76ers. His camp met with Sixers GM Elton Brand before and immediately after the trade to express Butler being open-minded about potentially re-signing as a 2019 free agent, according to league sources. As these superstar trades typically go, Butler ended up being moved to Philadelphia, not either Los Angeles or New York team, or Miami. Less than three months from the start of free agency on July 1, questions remain about the future of the league’s top free agents.
2 years ago via ESPN

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s this: Butler’s All-NBA, two-way greatness and his volatility make him one of the most compelling figures in this year’s NBA playoffs. The league waits, popcorn at the ready, to see which Jimmy will show up for the Sixers, both for the next couple weeks (or months) and into the summer, when Butler will be among the NBA’s highest-profile free agents. “I’ll be here in Philly for a little bit, and this will be the next chapter,” Butler says. “We have the opportunity to do something special. We know what we can do. We talk about it every single day with the coaches in practice and when we watch ourselves on film. We know what we can do. We know. It’s all about going out there now and supposedly showing the world, even though I highly doubt anyone on this team gives a damn what the world thinks anyway.”

Josh Harris told us last week that the Sixers want to keep both Tobias Harris and Butler because players of that caliber are difficult to acquire. He’s right. The franchise learned that difficult lesson last offseason when they had oodles of cap space but no high-level free agents to ladle it out to. Retaining Harris and Butler would zoom them deep into the luxury tax for the foreseeable future and handicap how the Sixers can fill out the rest of the roster—especially because Simmons will soon be in line to sign an extension. That would be a lot of money wrapped up in four players. “We get it,” Harris stipulated. “It’s expensive.”

Chris Haynes: “We all know that the Clippers have two max slots. They’re going to be aggressive… They have interest in Jimmy Butler. They’re going to go after KD. They’re going to go after Kawhi Leonard. And, this has been said before so I’m not reporting anything new, but I think the Clippers have a really good shot at Kawhi. I really do. Give credit to that front office over there and the way they’ve changed the culture… It depends on how things play out in Toronto. I think they really have to, if not win the championship, [at least] get to the NBA Finals to kind of cure the concern. That’s going to be really interesting. I’m looking forward to how [Leonard’s free agency] is going to play out probably even more so than Kevin Durant.”

If they can’t add any substantial pieces by Thursday, are the Sixers good enough as currently constituted to overcome those obstacles and reach the Finals? They’d certainly have a shot, but simply having a chance feels inadequate when measured against the “our time is now” declaration. The question of what to do at the trade deadline is tethered to another pressing issue: Butler’s upcoming free agency. People in and around the organization have expressed concern to me that Butler could bolt this offseason.

Most players’ production declines in their mid-30s. And being on the hook for around $38 million annually for a declining player with an injury history would set a team back. Butler suffered a knee injury last season. “No concern, because of the way he takes care of his body,” Brand said. “But, of course, there’s other things that would have to happen before you discuss those kind of things … like he has to opt out of his contract. So, I don’t want to talk about that yet.”
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