The Houston Rockets nearly made a massive splash early on in the 2018-2019 season by trading a King’s Ransom of first-round picks for Jimmy Butler. As we all know now, Butler wound up heading to the 76ers for the last year of his deal (assuming he opts out) and now looks to hit free agency where he will likely command a max contract.
As an elite two-way player able to score at all three levels and defend the other team’s top option, Butler has a number of potential suitors and is one of the biggest name free agents on the open market this season. Still only 29 years old and in the meat of his prime, Butler should be able to help whatever team lands him for years to come.
While it would be a stretch in order to get Butler in Houston, Daryl Morey has shown that he is willing to make a splash and do whatever is necessary to help put his team over the top.
Can the Rockets Make Jimmy Butler Work With Their Cap Space?
In short, not really. Heading into next season, the Rockets only have money committed to James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, Nene, and Isiah Hartenstein. Despite only having seven players under contract, the Rockets already project to be nearly $11 Million above the salary cap. This would make signing Butler to the 5-year $190 Million max contract he is eligible for incredibly difficult.
One possible option for the Rockets would be to try and find a suitable trade partner for Chris Paul. It is no secret that a number of big market teams with cap space are looking for a star and should they strike out early in free agency (*cough* Lakers & Knicks *cough*), they might be willing to look into trading for the star they need. This would free up over $40 million in cap space for the Rockets and allow them to actually make a move for Butler.
How Does Jimmy Butler Fit In With the Rockets?
Although nominally listed as the same position as James Harden, the two actually play entirely different roles. Where Harden thrives as an attack-first ball dominant guard, Butler is a bit more effective on the wing and has a ferocious two-way impact on the game. If anything, adding Butler as a secondary ball-handler and scoring option in place of Paul might make the Rockets a considerably more dangerous team.