Can the Sixers ‘Run It Back’ before the Rockets ‘take off’ with Jimmy Butler?


After a draft that left much left to be desired, the Philadelphia 76ers’ urgency to keep talent and ‘run it back’ is at an all-time high. The Sixers must offer the maximum deal to Jimmy Butler. That is the focal point of this offseason for many fans right now. Bring back “Jimmy Buckets” and lock down an above average shooter or defensive center for bench depth, whether that means Tobias Harris or someone else from free agency. Last night, the latest National Basketball Association franchise that threw a wrench into those plans were the Houston Rockets, who are ready to trade a lot to take off with Butler.

What is being discussed is a sign and trade from the Houston Rockets to the Philadelphia 76ers for Jimmy Butler. The contract would have to be for at least three years and cannot be more than four. Butler would receive up to the maximum starting salary based on years of NBA experience. As of now, the Rockets can’t afford to offer more than a four year, $140.6 million contract. Since the Sixers have rights, they can offer Butler what he wants, which is the five years, $189.7 max contract.

As of this moment, the Houston Rockets have Clint Capela and Eric Gordon on their trading block in an attempt to package with the sign and trade for Jimmy Butler. The Rockets could trade those players or first-round picks, but that is if the Philadelphia 76ers don’t just offer Butler the max deal. Right now, the Sixers are discussing how confident they are in bringing back not only Butler but Tobias Harris.

Eric Gordon is on the Houston Rockets trading block

However, one thing that hasn’t received much spotlight is that Jimmy Butler is a native of Texas. He is from Houston, so playing at home could be something that interests him personally. However, he has to think about the possibility of winning in the long term versus always being in a win now predicament. Going to the Houston Rockets, he would be playing alongside James Harden and Chris Paul, which sounds great. They are both NBA superstars, but they are older than Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. If Embiid gets his nutrition correct and Simmons can develop a jump shot in game situations, the upside of winning is extended with a younger team in the Philadelphia 76ers.

Playing with Chris Paul and James Harden could be to the detriment of Jimmy Butler. Harden and Paul seem to be butting heads in Houston. It sounds like Harden expects players to play with him his way, which doesn’t seem to fit with Paul. Throughout Butler’s NBA career, he hasn’t been the type to play second fiddle and let a specific player be a superstar. The Philadelphia 76ers are full of personalities that feed off of each other, which showed this season as Butler fits with Joel Embiid, Mike Scott, and Tobias Harris like a glove.

James Harden and Chris Paul

Another aspect that Jimmy Butler has to consider is the coaching. Does he believe in Mike D’Antoni to coach an NBA Finals champion team? D’Antoni has been a coach that while he excels and the pace of play, he offers to changes to his gameplan once teams have figured him out. It seems that D’Antoni doesn’t want to modify how he uses James Harden because he is the cornerstone superstar of the Houston Rockets, which leaves Butler idle alongside Chris Paul. Butler isn’t idle in Philadelphia. He is the big shot and the fired up defender than keeps the Sixers in games, playing to Simmons offensive weaknesses, but complimenting him defensively.

The determination is there for the Philadelphia 76ers to bring back Jimmy Butler on a max deal, but the intent should be to ignore the Houston Rockets sign and trade. The pedal is to the floor to bring Butler back to Philadelphia. Butler declined his player option because he wants the max deal, which was clearly going to happen. However, the Sixers hold control because if they are doing everything they can to bring back Butler, the maximum contract that the Sixers can only offer fits what Butler is requesting.

It is going to be crowded this off-season for the Philadelphia 76ers while they wade through all of the other franchises attempting to court Jimmy Butler. In this scenario, a lot of people in this bar we call NBA free agency view Butler as the prettiest on the dance floor. The Sixers right now are in the bathroom, cleaning up. The Houston Rockets, along with other teams, are chatting up Butler. By the last call, Butler is going to make his decision about what team he leaves free agency with.

For all we know, Butler’s agent could be posturing to the Philadelphia 76ers, saying that he is getting offers from other teams to ensure his client gets the max deal. That would be optimism for Philadelphia. If the Houston Rockets are going to offer four years, $140.6 million, why wouldn’t the agent report to the Sixers? It provides the leverage needed for Butler to get the payday he wants. The Sixers aren’t going to let Butler be signed without a fight and he won’t walk for free. The Sixers have the best hand at the table, they just need to play it.

Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports