The Miami Heat got a measure of revenge against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, battling back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to take a 119-115 win at Miami-Dade Arena. And, as one might have expected, it was Jimmy Butler who keyed the comeback.
With the game on the line, Butler scored 12 of his team-high 33 points over a seven-minute run during the final frame. Of those points, none were bigger than the two that came off of his pull-up J with just under 20 ticks remaining, a shot that essentially sealed the win for the home team.
Despite that, though — not to mention all he has done to lead Miami over the last four years — there will likely come a time when team president Pat Riley has to turn the page. Alas, one Eastern Conference exec is of the belief that breaking up will be hard to do.
“If they really wanted to overhaul, it would have to start with Jimmy Butler and that is a tricky, tricky proposition,” the exec told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney.
Exec Sounds Off on the Many Difficulties the Heat Could Encounter in Parting Ways With Jimmy Butler
Make no mistake — Butler has been the face of the franchise since the moment he arrived in South Beach. Without him, there’s no NBA Finals run in the bubble and last year’s near-miss isn’t even a possibility.
Unfortunately, the Heat are no longer sitting at the contender’s table. Moreover, Riley and Co. have serious constraints in making upgrades with Butler, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo eating up so much of the team’s cap. Consequently, the time for a reboot may be upon us.
However, there are a number of things that could work against Butler and the Heat in a trade scenario.
“He has a home in Miami, but we have seen Jimmy cause some problems in other places and no one has forgotten that. Minnesota, Philadelphia, Chicago, he has some history, right? So that is a problem,” the exec told Deveney.
“Then you have the fact that he is going to be 34 this summer. He has played well, his numbers have held up but he works so hard for everything he gets that you can imagine he is going to have a pretty quick drop-off once age catches up to him. That is another tough thing they’d have to deal with.”
Butler’s Contract May Be the Bigger Issue
Personality quirks and time’s forward march notwithstanding, there are always teams out there willing to take fliers on superstar-level talents. If anything, the finances involved with acquiring and rostering Butler may be what gums up the works here.
“They gave him a four-year deal that goes up to $52 million in the last year. That is just crazy — he will be 36 and making $52 million. He is a good player, probably a Top 25 guy. He is tough. He plays through injury. No complaints about him on that. But he can’t shoot the three-pointer, in today’s NBA where you need to shoot it, and he is getting old,” the exec opined.
“Is Jimmy Butler that much better than DeMar DeRozan, who is getting half the money Jimmy gets? No, no way.”
Regardless, the exec believes the writing is on the wall.
“There is going to come a time where they will seriously look at moving Jimmy Butler but it is just going to be tough because, who is going to want to take that deal?”