What Jimmy Butler wants and what Jimmy Butler has to accept may be two different things.
Or, is Jimmy Butler using Miami to get what he really wants — a full five-year max from Philadelphia?
While Butler is coveted by teams everywhere from Los Angeles to New York — literally — his heart is apparently in Miami, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Not that this is a surprise – or means anything – but Jimmy Butler is expected to tell Miami officials tonight that he wishes to play for the Heat, per source.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) June 30, 2019
In terms of fit and culture, Butler would be perfect in Miami. Whether that actually comes to pass is something else entirely.
The buzz around the league for a while has been that what Butler really wants is a fully guaranteed, five-year, $191 million offer from Philadelphia and that all the other rumors — Miami, a sign-and-trade with Houston, joining Kevin Durant on the Clippers, etc. — are all really about pressuring Philly to give up that money. The Sixers, reportedly and understandably, are hesitant to give a full five years to Butler, who is about to turn 30 and has an injury history.
That said, Philly wants to retain Butler and would only relent to a sign-and-trade if Butler both demanded it and threatened to leave to a third team with cap space if the Sixers did not make the trade. The Lakers and Nets have cap space and interest in Butler, and the Lakers are reportedly being very aggressive now (what that says about their pursuit of Kawhi Leonard is interesting).
Jimmy Butler meets with Heat officials at 6:01 PM ET tonight but continues to draw interest from a number of suitors, league sources say, with the Lakers making the latest aggressive bid. Lakers officials, I&aposm told, are pushing for a pitch meeting with Butler
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 30, 2019
With Miami, it will likely take a third team to get a deal done. No way the Sixers agree to take on the salaries of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, or Ryan Anderson. Some combination of Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson would work for Philly, but not Miami.
Butler remains one of the real wild cards in free agency, even if what he wants is to be in Miami.