NBA Rumors: Jimmy Butler, Lakers A ‘Perfect Fit,’ Max Kellerman Says

Mitchell Leff Getty Images

The official start of NBA free agency is less than a week away, with teams getting the rights to negotiate with free agent players starting on June 30. Speculation is continuing to swirl over which players will sign with which teams.

ESPN’s First Take on Monday had a discussion about one particular free agent, guard/forward Jimmy Butler, and which team he should choose. Stephen A. Smith argued that Butler is better off remaining with his current team, the Philadelphia 76ers, while cohost Max Kellerman argued that Butler is a “perfect fit” with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Butler “shouldn’t even be thinking about going anywhere else” besides Philadelphia, Smith said on the show. He went on to praise Butler’s no-nonsense nature, including his confrontation with Sixers coach Brett Brown shortly after his trade from Minnesota last November.

“There is no town, in the United States of America, in terms of basketball, who appreciates that more than the city of Philadelphia,” said Smith, who worked for several years at The Philadelphia Inquirer. He went on to say that Butler, since he’s such a great fit with the “blue collar” nature of Philadelphia, would be “a fool” to sign anywhere else.

Kellerman disagreed, arguing that Butler should go to the Lakers, in order to join LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

After arguing that Los Angeles is a basketball town while Philadelphia is a football town, Kellerman first floated the notion of Butler jumping to the Los Angeles Clippers, along with fellow free agent Kawhi Leonard, and predicted that such a team could win “back-to-back titles.”

But then Kellerman declared that instead, Butler should join the other Los Angeles team, the Lakers.

“What does LeBron really need? He needs a guy to be the primary ball handler when he needs a rest.” He also praised Butler’s defensive skills, and his possibly being okay with being the third option on offense.

One particular difference is that Philadelphia, as Butler’s incumbent team, can pay him more money and offer more years than any of the other teams. And Smith noted that the Sixers, with Butler, came the closest to defeating the Toronto Raptors of any team they faced in the playoffs, as Philadelphia lost in the second round of the playoffs to Toronto on a last-second shot by Leonard.

While Smith and Kellerman are both from New York City, neither talked about the possibility of Butler signing with either team there, the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets.