NBA Rumors: Jimmy Butler Could Leave 76ers For Pacers In Free Agency, ‘Bleacher Report’ Predicts

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Philadelphia 76ers small forward Jimmy Butler is expected to be one of the most coveted superstars in free agency this summer. When they acquired Butler in a blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Sixers expressed strong confidence that the All-Star forward will sign a long-term deal to stay in Philadelphia next summer.

Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report agreed that it will be hard for other NBA teams to convince Jimmy Butler to leave the Sixers in free agency. However, Fromal also believes that anything can happen once Butler officially exercises his player option to become an unrestricted free agent next July. If he decides to part ways with the Sixers after one season, Fromal suggested the Indiana Pacers as a “perfect” destination for Butler.

“If that’s not Philadelphia, which has figured out how to maximize his two-way skills in recent outings, it’s another organization that will squeeze out his defensive potency while letting him thrive in what’s primarily an off-ball setting. Better still, it’s a franchise with a hard-nosed identity that can handle his intensity, replete with promising players who have become battle-toughened during their brief NBA careers. In other words, the Indiana Pacers are perfect.”

As Fromal noted, the Pacers are one of the NBA teams who have the capability to give Jimmy Butler a “Godfather offer” in the free agency market. The Pacers could create $50 million in salary cap space by the renouncing all their incoming free agents, including Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Kyle O’Quinn, Cory Joseph, and Tyreke Evans. However, even if the Pacers give Butler a max contract, they still have the money to bring some of their useful veterans back to their roster.

If Indiana is able to successfully acquire Butler, that will further improve the Pacers’ defense, which currently ranks second in the league, allowing 103.1 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN. Aside from being a lockdown defender, Butler will also give the Pacers a very reliable scoring option alongside Victor Oladipo. In the first 40 games he played as a Sixer, Butler is averaging 18.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.9 steals on 47.7 percent shooting from the field and 34.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

The “Big Three” of Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo, and Myles Turner will not only help the Pacers fully dominate the Eastern Conference, but it could also give them a chance of contending for the NBA championship title. As of now, it remains unknown if the Pacers have a real interest in chasing Butler in the summer of 2019, but they are unlikely to sit back and relax while seeing other NBA teams improve their rosters.