Silly season is in full swing and Jimmy Butler and the Sixers are at the forefront of it all.
There’s a report that the Rockets want Butler in a sign-and-trade. Another report is suggesting that Butler is “very interested” in the Heat, but that would also require a sign-and-trade. All along, it seems like the Sixers’ stance of wanting to bring Butler back hasn’t changed.
What the Sixers have that no other team can offer is a fifth year on his next contract. The latest report from Shams Charania of the Athletic says that fifth year “will hold critical importance” to Butler and his agent Bernie Lee.
So … offer it. Let Butler sign it. Get it done.
From Butler’s perspective, of course that fifth year “will hold critical importance.” Part of the reason he wanted out of Minnesota was that the Timberwolves weren’t going to offer him the max. He’ll also turn 30 in September, making this Butler’s last chance for a big payday. He’s openly talked about the idea of wanting to retire at 35. If he signs elsewhere, it will be a four-year deal, meaning he’ll hit free agency again entering his age-35 season. Even if the Sixers don’t offer the full max at $190 million, whatever he makes in that fifth year will most likely be more than what he’d get on the open market.
Elton Brand should also be ready and willing to offer that fifth year. He gave up strong assets to get the four-time All-Star. That’s not to say he should throw money at a sunken cost. Butler was the team’s best player in the postseason. He emerged as a leader and, despite the reputation he came with, bonded with the team’s two young All-Stars.
There’s an argument to be made that Butler’s presence could stunt the growth of Ben Simmons. The concern is understandable. As Butler initiated the offense more and more in the playoffs, it put Simmons in the “dunker” spot on the floor, making him less of a threat. I’d argue that Butler’s presence takes the pressure off Simmons. And as Butler begins to decline, Simmons can assume a larger and larger role. In Game 6 against the Raptors, Simmons and Butler were both spectacular. That’s something the duo can build off of.
Of course there’s risk here for both sides. If Simmons and Joel Embiid don’t take the necessary steps in their progression, Butler may not have the chance to win he’s hoping for. If Butler has a steep decline, the contract could start to look bad in a hurry.
But there’s more risk in letting him walk and having him help another team win a title.
Offer the fifth year. End the silliness.
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