NBA star Jimmy Butler has been with the Philadelphia 76ers since late last year following messy departures from his previous two teams, the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves. The Sixers have been winning since Butler arrived and are now the third seed in the Eastern Conference. But a new report says that Butler, who can be a free agent after this season, is looking at other teams.
A piece by Sean Deveney in The Sporting News looks at different scenarios for how the 76ers’ offseason may play out, depending on whether some combination of the team’s two major in-season acquisitions, Butler and Tobias Harris, stay or leave.
Deveney reports that “front-office sources believe he will angle to go to either Brooklyn or New York, with the Clippers a possibility, too.” It’s not clear if those sources are in Philadelphia’s front office or just NBA front offices in general, but the piece adds that the sources are “not ruling out a return to the Sixers.”
Butler, who turns 30 in September, would likely be expecting a max contract from whichever team he picks this offseason.
In January, ESPN reported that Butler, who was traded to the Sixers only two months earlier, had “aggressively challenged” coach Brett Brown in a team meeting, which raised questions about the team chemistry on a team led by Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Butler. After another series of trades, including the one that brought Harris from the Clippers before the trade deadline in February, the Sixers’ situation appeared to stabilize, giving the team momentum heading into the playoffs.
In the event of a Butler departure, the Sixers could commit to re-signing Harris and then have salary cap space left to sign another star player from this offseason’s large free agent class that, in addition to Butler and Harris, includes the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker.
Deveney also reported that the Sixers “will move quickly to keep Harris,” who has moved around a lot throughout his career but is said to be seeking stability.
“He’s been shipped from Milwaukee to Orlando to Detroit to the Clippers and now to the Sixers, and he is still only 26 (he turns 27 in July),” Deveney wrote.
This offseason, several NBA teams have a great deal of salary cap space, including both teams in New York (the Knicks and Nets) and Los Angeles (the Lakers and Clippers).