The Sixers’ trade for Jimmy Butler doesn’t appear to be a rental.

With that in mind, we take a look at what Jimmy Butler’s next deal may look like and how that will impact the Sixers in the short and long term.

Butler’s new deal

At this point in the season, it’s too late for the Sixers and Butler to agree to an extension. Butler has a player option next season for $19.8 million. There is little to no chance he opts into that and forgoes an opportunity for a new long-term deal – especially with what the Sixers can offer him.

Butler has Full Bird rights, which means the Sixers can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him to a max deal. The Bird rights apply because Butler was part of a trade and was with his former team (the Bulls) for at least three years without leaving via free agency. Therefore his Bird rights transferred from the Bulls to the Timberwolves to the Sixers.

This is a huge advantage for the Sixers to re-sign Butler. They can offer him a contract in the neighborhood of five years for $190 million. Other teams can only offer him four years at around $140 million. That would be an awful lot of money for Butler to leave on the table. 

What it means for Sixers

Signing Butler this summer will make things interesting in filling out the rest of the roster. Perhaps Butler won’t demand the highest max total, giving the Sixers a little more flexibility, but it’s more likely that he’d like to get paid (and I can’t say I blame him). 

 

There are several complications here that likely make 2019 the last summer the Sixers can avoid the luxury tax. Joel Embiid’s cap number will hover around $27 million. You also have Ben Simmons’ extension looming in 2020. 

The Sixers have also already picked up Markelle Fultz’s option for 2019-20 at $9,745,200. His option for 2020-21 would carry a cap hit of $12,288,697. This is why the trade for Butler may be saying something about the way the organization feels about Fultz. A lot can happen in two years, but it really doesn’t seem like the Sixers would be able to afford Butler, Embiid, Simmons and Fultz long term.

The biggest concern for me with Butler getting a max deal is his age. He’ll be 30 when his max deal kicks in. If he gets the five-year deal, he’ll have a huge cap hit at age 35. Butler’s style of play is fun to watch but does take a toll on the body. He hasn’t played 82 games since 2012-13 and hasn’t gotten to 70 games in four of the last five seasons.

Basically, a Butler max deal says you are committed to the trio of Butler, Embiid and Simmons for the foreseeable future and feel comfortable just tinkering with the backend of your roster. It’d be something like what the Warriors have done recently, signing ring chasers like David West.

If Butler plays well and develops chemistry with Embiid and Simmons, the long-term deal makes sense for all parties involved.

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