Butler, it turns out, wanted to be in Miami.
Was that a bad thing for Houston? A number of front office personnel in Salt Lake City for the Summer League there told Tim MacMahon of ESPN the Rockets may have dodged a bullet.
The reaction from several rival scouts and executives to Jimmy Butler deciding to go to the Miami Heat over the Houston Rockets: The Rockets dodged a bullet.
Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s desire to add Butler to a dynamic that already has potential to be combustible puzzled some other talent evaluators. Especially considering that Butler would have been a distant second option to James Harden, who actively recruited the All-Star who opted to take his talents to South Beach, if not a third option behind Chris Paul as well.
“He’s not exactly a calming influence,” one league source said of Butler.
Plus, what the Rockets would have had to give up — Clint Capela, and either Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker — would have depleted the talent around a combustible core, which could have hurt the team’s prospects.
While going to Houston would have been going home for Butler, a lot of players don’t want to play at home (it comes with challenges, such as everyone you went to high school with asking for tickets). Maybe that was not what Butler wanted, maybe he felt a kindred spirit with grinders like Pat Riley and Erick Spoelstra, maybe he just likes South Beach that much. Whatever the reason, Butler made his choice.
How much of the Rockets going after Butler was real and how much was “look how hard we’re trying fans” is up for debate. Bottom line, the Rockets struck out, but with the roster they have — if Chris Paul and James Harden can go to some marriage counseling and figure things out — this team is a serious contender. Why mess with it and bring a spark to an already combustible scene?