‘Uncertainty’ Over Jimmy Butler Fueled Sixers’ Blockbuster Trade: Report

Philadelphia 76ers free agency Jimmy Butler Tobias Harris

Getty Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler and forward Tobias Harris

When Jimmy Butler yelled “Tobias Harris over me?” after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, it was seen as a direct shot at the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office. The Sixers decided that Harris was a more important piece to the championship puzzle, according to the Miami Heat star.

The chaotic scene was a great job of posturing by Butler. The truth is that the Sixers would have loved to keep both players, but Butler wasn’t on board with the way the team was constructed. He had issues with Ben Simmons being the point guard, along with concerns about then-coach Brett Brown’s leadership style.

Ultimately, Butler was the one who wanted out and the Sixers’ decision to trade for Harris at the 2019 trade deadline was their insurance policy. According to The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, “everything wasn’t rosy” during Butler’s 55-game tenure in Philadelphia. (Remember, the Sixers only landed on Butler after striking out on LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard). Pompey wrote:

And even though fans are still upset with Butler’s departure, everything wasn’t rosy during his brief tenure in Philly. Sources say the uncertainty surrounding Butler’s future that regular season was part of the reason they traded for Harris. Sources also said that the team was looking to land a solid player because of Butler’s wanting to get traded prior to the February deadline.

Harris is eligible to receive a three-year extension for $152.6 million this summer, but Pompey anticipates the Sixers using him “as a trade chip to acquire a third star.” Bradley Beal could be available. Ditto for Donovan Mitchell. It could come down to whether another team feels Harris is worth the two years and $76 million left on his current deal.

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Harris Describes New ‘Catch-and-Shoot’ Mentality

Harris worked hard to turn himself into a catch-and-shoot player from the perimeter after the James Harden trade. His three-point percentage spiked from 36.7% in the regular season to 38.6% in the postseason.

That wasn’t by accident. Harden’s ability to draw double teams and kick it out gave Harris plenty of clean looks. He worked extra hard to knock them down.

“This is the first time in my career that catch and shoot was an emphasis for me. In past and years prior, it was more where I would catch the ball, isolate, hold,” Harris told reporters on April 18. “So, it’s just evaluating how to be more efficient in roles. That was a big emphasis from the All-Star break was catching that ball and shooting it quick.

“For me, that was an adjustment, but it was a lot of extra hours in the gym and hard work of adjusting to it and being able to let it fly. And for me, I’m in a great rhythm, great groove right now. And I just look to continue that success.”

Oklahoma City Trades for JaMychal Green

The Denver Nuggets are sending forward JaMychal Green to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 30 pick and two future second-round picks, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojanorowski. Why should that trade matter to Philadelphia?

Well, Oklahoma City was seen as a possible landing spot for Tobias Harris due to their cap flexibility — $22 million prior to June 30, with the potential to add another $9.7 million. Not anymore. They’ll be paying Green with a good chunk of that extra loot.

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