It appears the Sixers are out of the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes ... or were never really in it, to begin with.
Initially, the Sixers were one of the teams rumored to be interested in the four-time All-Star, but a report surfaced Thursday that the team is not involved and had nothing more than “preliminary discussions” with Minnesota, per Sam Amick of The Athletic.
All the noise about Jimmy Butler yesterday was about Miami, but it’s clear Minnesota’s price tag remains extremely high. To highlight one rumored team, I’m told Philly is currently completely out of the JB situation and has never had any traction after preliminary discussions.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) September 27, 2018
So another star-hunting mission gone array, even with a new GM in the fold? Not exactly.
Butler is a very good, two-way basketball player that would make Elton Brand’s team better immediately. He’s a difference-making wing for a team that could truly use a difference-making wing.
But his fit just isn’t perfect. He’s never been an elite three-point shooter, most of his points are scored in isolation and this is the second time he couldn’t play nice with other stars. The Sixers need to surround Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with shooters, Brett Brown’s offense relies on pace and space, and it doesn’t seem ideal to bring Butler into a situation where he’d be playing second or third fiddle.
That’s not even bringing up the possible compensation and the max deal Butler would then expect. Giving up any combination of Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and the Heat’s unprotected 2020 first-round pick doesn’t seem worth it given the aforementioned factors. As far as giving him a max deal, Butler will turn 30 when that deal kicks in. Embiid will be 25 and Simmons will be 23.
You were right to be in your feelings about missing out on LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. Butler just isn’t quite at that level. LeBron is the best player on the planet. When healthy, Leonard is an MVP-caliber player. Butler is more like a top-15 player at best.
Here’s the positive you can take from all of this: star players are constantly shaking loose in the NBA. In a couple of years, the following stars have all been involved in trades: Leonard, Paul George, Chris Paul (albeit under different circumstances), Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins and Blake Griffin. Now Butler is likely on the move. It makes sense that Brand put in a preliminary call, but it makes even more sense that he's seemingly passed on Butler.
It’s only a matter of time before the right star in the right scenario is on his way to Philly.