The Philadelphia 76ers had to know the concern over Jimmy Butler’s future would escalate eventually. And the 2019 NBA trade deadline is essentially the perfect time for it to officially begin to ramp up. After all, Butler made no guarantees about re-signing with the Sixers after they struck a deal and acquired him from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Elton Brand and company chose to enter the Butler situation by taking on all the risk that came along with it. Gone were fan-favorites in Robert Covington and Dario Saric, but it was fine because this move had the chance to be the big one. The opportunity to make the Sixers a championship-caliber squad. And that may happen, and things may work out perfectly, or maybe they won’t.
Butler had interest in the Sixers but was also previously linked to multiple other teams as well. And now, ahead of Thursday’s deadline, the rumblings about his future with the team have picked up steam.
As The Ringer’s John Gonzalez first reported, there’s concern that Butler will indeed leave in the upcoming offseason.
“People in and around the organization have expressed concern to me that Butler could bolt this offseason. They’re right to worry.”
Gonzalez goes on to point out the recent trade request from Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving’s unknown future and the Kristaps Porzingis deal. All of these things are fair to evaluate, and Butler’s decision could come down to a variety of things, but he’s going to have an interesting decision ahead.
Free Agency Outlook a Reason for Sixers to Have Concern
The early rumors had Butler interested in the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, as well as the Los Angeles Clippers. As things stand, those three teams are all bound to have a massive amount of cap space this coming offseason. Or at the very least, enough to offer Butler a massive contract and lure him from the Sixers, should they opt to go that route.
Based on the loaded upcoming free agency class, Butler could be enticed by the potential of teaming up with another star, and there are plenty of them available. Irving and Kevin Durant are just two, and both have been linked to the Knicks previously. With that said, New York wouldn’t be able to add Butler if they signed those two big names.
Regardless, if the door to the Nets or Clippers swings open, and it was believed Butler wanted to be there at first, will his tenure in Philly be enough to convince him to stay where he is? Beyond that, would the Sixers even offer the 29-year-old guard a huge deal this offseason? Those are two huge questions ahead of the trade deadline and could decide what direction the franchise goes.