As NBA free agency finally gets underway on Sunday, one of the more fascinating subplots is that of Jimmy Butler, the star swingman who played most of last season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Butler is a free agent after the season, and the NBA rumor mill has him doing anything from staying in Philadelphia to jumping to the Los Angeles Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, or New York Knicks. In recent days, per The Inquisitr, the Houston Rockets have emerged as a potential Butler suitor, with recent rumors having the Rockets offering the bulk of its non-James Harden and non-Chris Paul veteran core to the 76ers in a sign-and-trade for Butler.
Now, two ESPN NBA reporters have provided an update on that situation.
Per a double-bylined ESPN.com article by Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Rockets are making offers around the league of those veteran players – Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker – in order to obtain a high draft pick, which they could then offer to Philadelphia in a sign-and-trade for Butler.
The reporters, per league sources, say that “the Rockets want to present a package to the Sixers that would include the best available first-round pick acquired for any one of three players as part of a larger deal with Philadelphia for Butler.”
The Rockets would offer a combination of that pick and players to the 76ers for Butler, or possibly with a third team involved as well.
However, a sign-and-trade arrangement would require the cooperation of both Butler and Philadelphia. It would only happen if Butler were to decide he wanted to play in Houston, and the Sixers decided their best course of action was to pursue the trade rather than let Butler walk away for nothing.
Houston's priority for free agency, league sources tell ESPN: Pursue a sign-and-trade for Sixers All-Star Jimmy Butler. https://t.co/Bsk6g2YhfW
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 25, 2019
The Sixers, however, “have been expressing confidence throughout the NBA” that they will be able to keep both of their major free agents, Butler and Tobias Harris.
The 76ers, as Butler’s current team, can offer him more money than any other club.
If he went to Houston, Butler would join stars Harden and Paul, who according to recent reports – later denied by Paul – were feuding by the end of last season, per The Inquisitr. Butler is also a player who likes to have the ball in his hands, so it’s unclear how he would get along with the Rockets’ two existing ball-dominant players.
However, Butler has sometimes clashed with who he considered “immature” young players in both Minnesota and Philadelphia, and in Houston would be joining a nucleus in which the other two players are established veterans.