2019 Free Agency Briefing: Jimmy Butler

by June 30, 2019
Jimmy Butler of the Philadelphia 76ers

Jimmy Butler has scheduled meetings with two teams and will be pursued by several more. The swingman is being floated as a potential sign-and-trade chip as well as a coveted free agency target.

Below we’ve summarized and outlined various reports that have come in about the superstar’s potential landing spot. Other teams may be interested in Butler but these are the teams that we feel have the most traction.

As news breaks and we learn more about where Butler stands regarding free agency, we’ll update this briefing. Similarly, if other teams appear to gain ground in their own pursuit of Butler, we’ll add them here.

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Philadelphia 76ers

Salary Cap Room: $0

The Sixers technically are over the salary cap thanks to the cap holds for Butler ($30.7M), Tobias Harris (22.0M), and J.J. Redick ($15.9M). If things go the way Philadelphia hopes, they’ll re-sign all three via Bird Rights (Early Bird for Redick; Butler and Harris with full Bird) and won’t have cap space at any point this offseason.

Both Butler and Harris are expected to garner max deals. The Sixers remain focused on bringing both players back, though competition for each players’ services will be fierce.

The fifth year on Jimmy Butler’s potential max contract could be considered to be a trump card for Philly. If the Sixers offer it, he signs or at least that’s what some within the league believe. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in an Instagram story that Philadelphia may be hesitant on offering that final year and perhaps that is why Butler is meeting with other teams to begin free agency.

Jimmy Butler’s Max Contract Options
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Miami Heat

Salary Cap Room: $0

The Heat are meeting with Jimmy Butler to open free agency and he is expected to tell them that he wants to play in Miami. If Pat Riley wants to welcome him into the organization, he’ll then have to work with the Sixers to find a sign-and-trade deal to their liking.

Philadelphia is open to a sign-and-trade should Butler choose a team without the requisite cap room to sign him outright and while it’ll be better for the franchise to get something in return for an outgoing player, the team isn’t going to simply take just any deal.

Josh Richardson is reportedly among the players on the table in Butler sign-and-trad scenarios. Miami is unable to trade their 2020 or 2022 draft pick, having already sent out its 2021 selection previously, so it might be difficult for them to dictate terms with Philadelphia.

Los Angeles Clippers

Salary Cap Room: $52,928,034

The Clippers are toying with the idea of adding Butler along with Kawhi Leonard if the Finals MVP decides to join Steve Ballmer’s team. Los Angeles appears to have some trepidation about adding Butler on a four-year max deal, though if Leonard joins him, the duo’s upside will be too great to worry about Butler’s age concerns on the back end of his max.

As we mentioned in Kawhi Leonard’s briefing, the Clippers have the ability to carve out max slots for two players, though they still need to make additional moves to do so.

Houston Rockets

Salary Cap Room: $0

Houston is another team needing the Sixers to play ball on a sign-and-trade in order to land Butler. General manager Daryl Morey’s Plan A is to convince Butler that playing with James Harden and Chris Paul is the best move for the four-time All-Star’s career.

The Rockets have reportedly put Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela on the table in potential sign-and-trades with the Sixers. Salary cap rules may prevent Philadelphia from taking more than roughly $20M back in such a deal and Houston is prepared for the scenario, already lining up a potential three-way deal with another team that sends them Capela.

Brooklyn Nets

Salary Cap Room: $32,655,942

Butler and Kyrie Irving, who will sign with the Nets, have previously been rumored to have interest in playing together. Kevin Durant appears to be the top target for Brooklyn’s other star spot, though if he chooses the Knicks or another team, I wouldn’t rule out Butler moving two hours north (on a good day of traffic).

As mentioned in Durant’s free agency briefing, the Nets do not yet have enough cap room to sign two max players, though they can easily make additional moves to get there. Butler will be an easier addition cap-wise than Durant, as the starting salary on his max comes in at $5.46M less than Durant’s.

Los Angeles Lakers

Salary Cap Room:  $  32,149,063

The Lakers are still in search of a third star to add to the LeBron James-Anthony Davis pairing and Marc Stein of The New York Times hears that the franchise will make an aggressive attempt to land Butler. Yet, as of this writing, the Lakers remain without a official meeting.

Even after altering the Davis deal and getting him to waive his no trade clause, the team remains short of necessary cap space to sign Butler to a full max. However, Los Angeles can get awfully close to that figure and the lure of the Lakers should not be underestimated.

Related: 2019 Free Agency Briefing: Kawhi Leonard
Related: 2019 Free Agency Briefing: Kevin Durant