LeBron James

NBA free agency rumors: Jimmy Butler a better fit for Sixers than LeBron James, Lakers

NBA free agency rumors: Jimmy Butler a better fit for Sixers than LeBron James, Lakers

Kawhi Leonard’s Game 7 jumper barely took its fourth bounce off the rim and already the offseason rumors are swirling.

On Thursday, we had two different rumors suggest that the Los Angeles Lakers are a strong candidate to land Jimmy Butler. One report included a recruiting pitch by LeBron James and another saying Butler would "join the Lakers in a second if they offered him a max deal." That also aligns with a report from during the season.

But given what the Sixers can offer Butler and James’ contract situation, the Sixers are the better fit.

There are certainly dots that connect Butler with L.A. The fact that the Lakers have the best player in the world in LeBron is obviously appealing. Though the franchise has fallen on rough times, there is a rich history there. Butler reportedly “once imagined” playing for the Lakers and is often seen rocking a Dodgers cap. Butler has also talked about wanting to open his own winery when he retires. L.A. is six hours from Napa Valley, but it’s a lot closer than Philly.

With all that said, the Sixers are still in an advantageous spot. Because they acquired Butler in a trade, they own his Bird Rights. That means they’re the only team that can offer Butler a fifth year on his next contract. Butler has openly stated that he’d like to retire after his age-35 season. With his 30th birthday upcoming, a deal with the Sixers could give him security up until that retirement — and pay him pretty damn handsomely. 

The opportunity to play with James is attractive, but James will be 34 next season and only has two years left on his deal with a player option for a third. With the Sixers, he has two young stars that haven’t even reached their prime and should be in Philadelphia for a long time. While a Butler and James pairing immediately makes the Lakers better, the Sixers were a couple bounces — and perhaps a healthy Joel Embiid — away from being in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Talking about this roster, we just had a slight hiccup,” Butler said. “But what hurts most about this loss is we had a great group of guys that would ride for one another. It was special. We enjoyed playing with each other. You couldn’t mess with anybody on the team because somebody was always going to be there, in your face. But to think that this roster might not be the exact same next year, that’s what really hurts.”

Beyond money and the opportunity to win, Butler truly emerged as a leader for the Sixers. Given his personality, that seems like something he relishes. Would he have that same leadership opportunity playing with James?

We also can’t underestimate the relationship Butler developed with Brown. Player and coach grew to understand each other. Given Butler’s abrasive personality, that can’t be understated. Will Frank Vogel be able to develop that kind of connection?

While the Sixers look like the better fit, there’s no telling what’s in Butler’s mind and heart. He mentioned during his exit interview how important keeping the people in his inner circle happy is. It’s fair to note that Butler also did forge a bond with player development specialist Remy Ndiaye and player development coach Lindsey Harding, both of whom can be spotted in videos on Butler’s YouTube channel — which is super entertaining, on a side note.

Buckle up, Sixers fans. This is just the beginning of the silly season. Things are going to get weird.

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Sixers mailbag: Suitors for Tobias Harris? Ben Simmons for LeBron James?

Sixers mailbag: Suitors for Tobias Harris? Ben Simmons for LeBron James?

We asked for your questions regarding how the season ended, free agency and the draft.

And you didn’t disappoint, Sixers fans.

So many questions came in that we had to split it up into two mailbags.

Here’s part one, touching on Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Kawhi Leonard’s buzzer-beater.

According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Harris will have plenty of suitors this offseason. Sixers fans really soured on Harris in a hurry. The emotions from the Toronto series are still raw and that 7-of-23 performance in a pivotal Game 4 is still fresh in everyone’s mind, but cut Harris a little slack.

This was just his second time in the postseason — the other time being when the Pistons were swept in 2015-16 — and he was actually excellent in the final three games of the Brooklyn series. Who outside of Jimmy Butler was consistently good in the second round? Harris had an All-Star caliber season, is just 26 and has improved every season of his career. I’m not saying the Sixers absolutely need to max him, but if they don’t, somebody will.

Speaking of “fixated,” there have been multiple people in my mentions about Walker. I guess because he dropped 60 on the Sixers this season everyone thinks he’s a world-beater. I like Walker a lot. He can go off any given night and would offer a strong complement to Ben Simmons.

But the reality is Walker is 6-foot-3, is not a good defender and is already 29 years old. At the same age, Butler is unequivocally the better option. He may not be a perfect fit on the floor, but he offers much more as a defender and is the kind of leader the Sixers have needed.

Any time you’re talking about the greatest player maybe ever, you have to consider it. The biggest concern for me would be that James doesn’t want to be here. He had his chance and chose L.A. for a reason. His family is happy there and he has aspirations for life after basketball. Also, it would seem like part of the Sixers’ appeal to James would be playing with Simmons.

James will turn 35 this season and is signed for two more years and then has a player option. Simmons will turn 23 this summer and is eligible to sign his rookie max extension which would keep him here for the next six seasons. I get being all-in for a championship, but you have to balance that with the future at least a little bit.

Sixers fans won’t like my answer, but I think the team’s fate is the same even if gets to OT. Joel Embiid had already played 45 minutes at that point and you would need him for every second of that overtime given how poorly they performed with him on the bench. 

Could Butler have worked his magic and gone off in OT? Maybe, but the Raptors seemed to have all the momentum down the stretch.

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Kevin Hart and Ben Simmons get icy on LeBron James

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Kevin Hart / YouTube

Kevin Hart and Ben Simmons get icy on LeBron James

Kevin Hart had his favorite basketball player from his hometown Sixers on his YouTube show “Cold As Balls” in an episode the diminutive funnyman dedicated to the city of Philadelphia.

Hart takes extra special care of Ben Simmons as he’s getting in and out of the ice bath to make sure there’s no freak accident that could derail the Sixers’ title run this season.

Hart, who is frequently seated courtside at Sixers games, asked Simmons his thoughts on Hart’s infamous trash talking.

“There was this one time against the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade — you were talking sh** to him the whole time — he hit a big shot right in my face. I remember I was like, ‘Why is Kevin talking to him! He’s got to sit down and enjoy the game,’” Simmons said.

Hart brought up the meeting LeBron James, a mentor of Simmons', took with the Sixers during his free agency this past summer before he opted to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

Simmons said Philly may have been more of a consideration earlier in James' career, which kind of implied winning may not be James’ sole focus in Los Angeles. Yep. Hart and Simmons joked that the Sixers don’t need him anyway.

“We got this,” Simmons said.

Perhaps the best moment from the icy chat was when Hart asked Simmons what he would say to Simmons' Rookie of the Year competition Donovan Mitchell if he had the opportunity.

“Nothing,” Simmons said with big smile. “He knows.”

The two also talk Philly, video games, burner accounts, wild animals, Australia, Bentleys, and much more. You can watch the segment below. It's pretty much the polar opposite of Joel Embiid on "Hot Ones."



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