Miami Heat Facing Monumental Decision on Jimmy Butler’s Contract

Jimmy Butler

Getty The Miami Heat are going to have to make a decision on Jimmy Butler's future.

Jimmy Butler thanked each and every one of his teammates after getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs. It was a heartfelt goodbye, but not a final one as the Miami Heat star sounded like a man ready to come back and fight the good fight in 2022.

Butler inked a four-year, $141 million with the Heat in 2019 that locked him up through the 2022-23 season. However, there is a $37.7 million player option in the final year of the deal so the franchise may want to head to the negotiating table ahead of that. That is, if Butler is intent on staying in South Beach. There were a few rumors to the contrary, although Butler’s agent shot that noise down. After Game 4, the five-time All-Star forward was more reflective than “testy.”

“You go to war with any and everybody that you have, and you hope for the best because you go out there and you can compete,” Butler told reporters. “But, yeah, we can be better, we’ll get better.

“But I’m grateful for the opportunity to play with all the guys I played with this year. I say thank you to each and every one of them for being in the trenches and competing with me and for me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

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Evaluating Miami’s Monumental Decision

Heat president Pat Riley has never been one to sit on his hands and do nothing. The team has already been linked to several high-profile free agents, maybe Kawhi Leonard or Kyle Lowry. But Riley will have to make a decision on what to do with the best player currently on the roster.

While Butler won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2023, he could potentially decline his player option in 2022 or put the pressure on Riley to rip it up and give him a new four-year max deal for around $181 million. That’s a ton of money for a player who will be 33 years old at that time.

Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel broke down how it all might play out for the Heat and Butler (via ESPN’s Bobby Marks):

In a league where the maximum is the assumed extension, Butler’s can be for four years at $181 million, starting in 2022-23, when he would be 33. It would continue through an age range when the Heat previously had contractual doubts about Dwyane Wade.

The four-year, $141 million contract Butler signed to join the Heat in 2019 free agency includes a guaranteed $36 million next season and then a $37.7 million player option in 2022-23. By rule, he can extend this offseason with a deal that would replace his 2022-23 option and run for four years starting with that season. Such an extension would have Butler under contract through 2025-26, a season when he would be 36.

Erik Spoelstra Details Butler’s Playoffs

The first-round loss to Milwaukee marked the first time a Heat squad guided by Erik Spoelstra had been swept in the playoffs. He has taken his share of the blame for not making the right adjustments or pushing the right buttons this year. Some have even called for his head.

To be fair, the Heat’s two best players — Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo — struggled mightily against the Milwaukee Bucks. Spoelstra evaluated the performances of both guys after his team’s playoff exit and threw some honest criticism at Butler.

“They defended him well, took away some things,” Spoelstra said of Butler. “I thought he missed shots that normally we live with those, and then he was able to create and make the plays that we are accustomed to. He can manipulate a game offensively against any coverage, any player, as well as any player I’ve ever coached. We just weren’t able to get it done in this series, and probably it’s a bigger part on me to get him in better comfort zones and do things more consistently.”

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