When Jimmy Butler demanded a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, one of the first potential landing spots of interest mentioned was the Brooklyn Nets. While we know things played out with the Philadelphia 76ers striking a deal for the 29-year-old guard, his future still remains somewhat up in the air.
The Sixers have had quite a bit of success with Butler on the roster and look to be trending towards becoming one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. But there is still a very real chance that Butler could test free agency and potentially even opt to leave Philly in the offseason. Beyond that, there are rumblings of possible issues behind the scenes currently which have grabbed plenty of attention.
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan spoke about Butler on The Lowe Post podcast with Zach Lowe and stated that he could be “on thin ice” with the Sixers moving forward. Although there have been a few rumors pointing to some possible issues, nothing has escalated to the point of being made public. Regardless, it hasn’t stopped teams from gearing up to make a run at Butler in free agency.
And one of those teams with reported interest in making a push for Butler is the Nets. As The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported, both the Los Angeles Clippers and Nets are expected to pursue the guard this offseason.
The Sixers seem unlikely to trade Butler at this point, but there are scenarios where that could change. If the front office believes they could miss out on re-signing him, or simply don’t plan on trying to, then dealing him now would be wise. If Philly attempts to work a deal with the Nets, it could also lead to the team receiving a decent haul in exchange, as Butler may be open to committing to signing long-term there.
It’s all hypothetical at this point, but let’s take a look at a few possible deals the Sixers and Nets could put together involving Butler.
*Note: All trades created with ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine.
Sixers Trade Jimmy Butler & Markelle Fultz to Nets
*Nets send a protected first-round pick to Sixers
If the Nets aren’t planning on bringing back D’Angelo Russell and are confident they can re-sign Butler in the offseason, then this could be an interesting deal. The Sixers would also move Markelle Fultz and in turn, free up additional money for a big push during 2019 free agency. They would still have a scorer to replace Butler but would lose the defensive upside.
Beyond that, the Sixers address a few key areas of need with this deal by adding both depth and outside shooting. They also pick up Ed Davis to provide another body in the frontcourt. On the other side, the Nets get the chance to see what Fultz’s upside looks like and could potentially land a steal if he pans out.
Nets Make Draft Pick-Heavy Offer for Jimmy Butler
*Nets send two first-round picks (one protected) to Sixers
Trading two first-round picks along with a core of four players seems like quite a bit, but this would come under the assumption that Butler makes it known he’ll re-sign in Brooklyn. Realistically, a deal with expiring deals in Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis, as well as Shabazz Napier and Rodions Kurucs isn’t going to get the job done by itself.
Tacking on these picks while also giving the Sixers depth moving towards the playoffs has some appeal. But the big issue here is that Philly would almost certainly want an immediate playmaker to fill Butler’s role. In this scenario, the only way that happens is if they work another deal on the side, or bring a third team into it, which is possible.