When they acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers expressed strong confidence that they can convince Jimmy Butler to re-sign when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. Butler may have gone through lots of ups and downs in his first season playing alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, but there is no doubt that he made them a better team on both ends of the floor.
Sixers owner Josh Harris said on numerous occasions that they will do everything to can to keep their core intact. However, more than a month before the 2019 NBA free agency, Jimmy Butler hasn’t given any assurance that he will sign a new contract with the Sixers. According to Yahoo Sports, Butler is very optimistic that he will get a huge payday anywhere he chooses to go next July. The departure of Butler will deeply hurt the Sixers, especially considering that they gave up precious trade assets to acquire him from the Timberwolves.
Luckily for the Sixers, if Jimmy Butler takes his talent somewhere else, they will have the salary cap space to look for his replacement on the free agency market. According to Zach Rosenblatt of NJ.com, one of the potential free-agent targets for the Sixers is Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“This only becomes a conceivable idea if Jimmy Butler opts to sign somewhere else (a la the Lakers) rather than return to the Sixers. They can clear enough cap space to bring Middleton into the fold, and he’s an ideal fit in a lineup that needs to surround Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with shooters and switchable defensive players. Middleton would only have to be, at most, the third or fourth option on offense and would be a fine replacement for Butler.”
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) May 29, 2019
Khris Middleton will undeniably be an incredible replacement for Jimmy Butler. Though his name isn’t popular as Butler, Middleton can replicate his performance on both ends of the floor. In 77 games he played this season with the Bucks, the 27-year-old small forward racked up 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.0 steal on 44.1 percent shooting from the field, as well as 37.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
After spending the past seasons serving as Giannis Antetokounmpo’s sidekick in Milwaukee, Khris Middleton won’t have a hard time making himself fit alongside Sixers superstars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Middleton may end up being a better teammate for Simmons and Embiid as he is younger, and has no history of a causing drama on and off the court.