As the rumors and rumblings around NBA free agency swirl, Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler has found himself among the most intriguing storylines. While the Sixers have appeared all along to have interest in re-signing Butler, who was acquired via trade early in the 2018-19 season, the latest chatter may point to a different outcome.
To this point, Butler has been linked to a number of teams, one of which is the Miami Heat, who many believed had a strong chance to acquire him before the Sixers did last year. And according to a report from Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Butler’s willingness/interest in joining the Heat may stem from Dwyane Wade.
More specifically, from Wade’s farewell tour and his final game with the Heat.
“Source says Jimmy Butler’s “mind was totally blown” by all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Dwyane Wade’s last home game, with him telling friends afterward that being able to see what Miami and the Heat organization are about left an enormous impact on him.” Reynolds stated on Twitter.
Butler and Wade played together with the Chicago Bulls during the 2016-17 season, which wound up as the final year with the team for both players (and only for Wade). During that season, Butler averaged career-high marks across the board with 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. Wade posted 18.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists over 60 games.
Beyond that, Wade appeared to do a bit of recruiting with a sarcastic comment to Butler on Twitter ahead of free agency as well.
While Wade and Butler’s banter appeared to be all in good fun, there’s no question that Wade’s respect for the Heat organization is high. He’d surely help recruit his former teammate if needed, and based on the list of teams rumored to have interest in Butler, that may be a wise move.
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Jimmy Butler’s Free Agency Outlook
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported, the Heat are expected to meet with Butler on Sunday in South Florida. This is obviously big, and while it’s unknown if they’ll receive the first meeting with him, it appears to be likely.
Wojnarowski also points out that both the Heat and Houston Rockets would need to strike a sign-and-trade with the Sixers in order to acquire Butler. Fortunately, it appears Philly is at least somewhat open to the idea of that.
Even beyond that news, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets have also shown interest in Butler.
The Lakers and Nets are two unique situations, as the former only has enough cap space for one max-level free agent. As for the Nets, they could potentially land two max players, but all rumblings point to Kyrie Irving being nearly a done deal and Kevin Durant as the player of focus for the other slot.