Should the 76ers Still Be Worried About Lakers’ Interest in Jimmy Butler?
The Philadelphia 76ers found out this past weekend that their star acquisition from last season, Jimmy Butler does not plan to exercise his player option with the team. Therefore, he will become an unrestricted free agent when July rolls around. Although not too many people were thrilled to hear about Butler's plans to become a free agent, nobody should be the least bit surprised as of right now.
Before Butler parted ways with the Sixers for the offseason, he made it very clear that he intends on maximizing his free agency potential. During his exciting press conference at the Sixers' facility in Camden, New Jersey, Butler told the media that he believes he's not only worth a max contract -- but he also believes he could get multiple max deals offers elsewhere. The Sixers have the ability to lure in two players on a max slot, and it sure sounds like they are going to try and get Butler back with one of them.
The Sixers won't get him back easily though. Being that Butler is in his 30s, he's in search of a deal that could potentially be his last big contract in the NBA, so he's getting ready to make it all count. The Sixers have the upper hand in this situation financially, but will the stars out in Los Angeles lure Butler away from Philly? Some believe so.
Now that the Lakers are acquiring star talent to form a super team, it seems as though Butler is among some of the potential free agents on their radar. And since other impending free agent stars such as Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are getting ready for a season's worth of rehab, the Lakers might have to fully pursue a 'Plan B' and grab Butler in order to be competitive for the 2019 NBA Season. However, the timing of their trade could strip away the Lakers chance at beating out Philly in a negotiation.
According to Fobes.com's Bryan Toporek, the timing of the Lakers-Pelicans deal involving Anthony Davis could leave them with a shortage of cap space. The cap space that would be used to offer a max contract to Jimmy Butler.
"If the Davis trade becomes official on July 6 as expected, the Lakers will have either $27.7 million in salary-cap space if he waives his 15 percent trade kicker or $23.7 million if he doesn't. That will leave them far short of the $32.7 million they'd need to offer a max contract to Butler, Harris or any other free agents with 7-9 years of NBA experience."
Good news for Philly, as there's been reported 'mutual interest' between Butler and L.A. Also, there's been reports from lead NBA Writer at NBC Sports, Kurt Helin that Jimmy Butler would take the fifth-year deal from the Sixers, if it is in fact, on the table. Now, is the Lakers-Butler interest just all talk by the media market out in L.A.? Not exactly. Helin did confirm that the interest is definitely there, but the numbers and the familiarity in Philly could be enough to keep Butler away from joining Davis and LeBron James out West.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_