Unless an “unforeseen change of circumstances” takes place, Philadelphia 76ers wingman Jimmy Butler is planning to opt out of the final year of his contract with the team, a new report suggests.
According to Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Haynes, Butler could become one of the most sought-after unrestricted free agents available in the 2019 offseason if he decides to decline the $19.8 million player option he has with the Sixers. While team officials were “prepared” for Butler’s supposed decision, per unnamed league sources cited by Haynes, the Sixers are reportedly “adamant” about trying to convince the 29-year-old forward/guard to remain in Philadelphia.
As further noted, Butler is expected to receive maximum contract offers from multiple teams if he makes his decision to opt out official, with the Los Angeles Lakers standing out as a team that has “genuine interest” in signing the four-time All-Star this summer. In line with this, Butler was quoted as saying during his exit interview with the Sixers last month that he sees himself as a candidate for a max contract, regardless of which team he ends up with in the offseason.
“You always want to be able to win. I think that’s key, for sure,” Butler continued. “You’re looking at coaches, you’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Yahoo Sources: Sixers forward Jimmy Butler intends to decline his $19.8 million player option to test free agency. https://t.co/on89pYddQx
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 14, 2019
Per Basketball-Reference, Butler averaged 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and four assists in 65 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers in the 2018-19 NBA season. The former first-round pick out of Marquette, who was acquired by the Sixers after playing 10 games for Minnesota to start out the 2018-19 campaign, saw his numbers slightly decline after moving to Philadelphia, but provided “consistent play and veteran leadership” for a team led on-court by young stars Joel Embiid at center and Ben Simmons at point guard.
As observed by Haynes’ sources, Butler’s positive contributions were especially evident during the playoffs, where the Sixers lost to the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors in an Eastern Conference Semifinals series that went the full seven games.
In addition to Butler, who has up until June 29 to formally opt out of his contract, the Sixers are also reportedly hoping to re-sign their other prospective free agent forward, Tobias Harris, to a new contract. However, a recent report from The Inquisitr cited The Athletic‘s Michael Scotto, who wrote earlier this week that there has been “mutual free agent interest” between Harris and his hometown Brooklyn Nets in the weeks leading up to the start of the 2019 NBA offseason.