Before Jimmy Butler joined the Miami Heat this summer in a sign-and-trade deal, the Houston Rockets were reportedly close to acquiring the four-time All-Star via a similar transaction. That deal didn’t come to pass, and as recent rumors suggest, Butler ended up ignoring the Rockets, despite how they supposedly had taken some steps to make room for the talented wingman.
As quoted by RealGM, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon claimed on Thursday’s edition of colleague Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast that Butler “ghosted” Houston in this summer’s free agency period, shortly before it was reported that he would be moving to the Heat. As MacMahon noted, the Rockets were purportedly willing to pay Butler a four-year maximum contract and thought they were on the way to landing him, only for the 30-year-old forward-guard to “[leave] them hanging.”
“They had trades lined up, I don’t know the teams (or) the destinations, but they had trades lined up for (Clint) Capela and (Eric) Gordon. They were ready to pay Jimmy Butler. They really liked their chances and then suddenly, Jimmy had other thoughts.”
As shown on Butler’s Basketball-Reference player page, the Rockets were not among the four teams that took part in the transaction that sent him from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Heat, as the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers also shook up their rosters by helping the aforementioned teams finalize the sign-and-trade deal. Despite missing a few games due to injuries, Butler has emerged as a top threat for Miami on both ends of the floor, averaging 20.1 points, six rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.4 steals per game for a Heat team is currently tied for third in the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 4, 2019
Meanwhile, the Rockets took a different route in the 2019 offseason after missing out on Butler. The organization, as noted by RealGM, ended up hanging on to Capela and Gordon, also trading point guard Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that sent Russell Westbrook to Houston. As of this writing, the Rockets’ 14-7 record puts them in fifth place in the Western Conference.
Prior to their failed attempt to land Butler in the 2019 free agency period, the Rockets were notably linked to the wingman early in the 2018-19 season, as recalled by ClutchPoints. At that time, the team reportedly offered four future first-round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves in hopes of acquiring Butler, who instead got shipped to the 76ers.