When Jimmy Butler was traded to the 76ers last November, it was unclear if it was a one-year rental deal or something more. Seven months have passed and we’re still no closer to knowing the future of one of the NBA’s most underrated stars. What?
When you Google “Jimmy Butler Free Agency” nothing definitive comes up. There are a few speculative articles about where he might sign, but no reputable reports or rumors about his future. The Clippers have been mentioned in connection with him at points this year, but that’s about it. Surprising considering when you search other big-name free agents on Google, like Kevin Durant, there’s a plethora of reports.
Maybe Butler’s playing his decision close to the vest. Maybe his team keeps the inner talks in-house better than other free agents. Maybe Woj doesn’t have a bug in Butler’s house, because he clearly has one in every other player’s living room. But regardless, we really have no idea what Butler will do this offseason: Sign for the $188-million max with the 76ers or sign elsewhere.
The 76ers seem like the most logical spot based on the money they can offer and the opportunity they have to build an Eastern-Conference power for the next decade. But then again, this team was built around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Perhaps Butler doesn’t like being the third member of the team (though if you’ve watched him in the playoffs, he’s clearly been the most important outside of Embiid).
The Clippers, likewise, have a lot to offer. Beyond having two max slots open and some talented youngsters, they also offer Butler the chance to be “the guy” in the second biggest market in the U.S. The Bulls and Knicks could do something similar, but a reunion with the Bulls seems completely unlikely given their competitive level right now, and the Knicks seem focused on Durant and Kyrie Irving. Butler probably wouldn’t want to be their fall-back plan, so maybe the Nets make more sense in term of New York.
Of course, this is speculation based on numbers and sense. Woj hasn’t said anything and neither has Shams. They could be saving it for when the offseason begins, but for now we’re left to wonder what will Jimmy do this offseason, and if this his last day with the 76ers.