NBA Execs Expect Sixers to Offer Jimmy Butler the Max
To sign or not to sign -- that is the question. As the start of NBA Free Agency is roughly about a month away, impending free agent's are getting started on thinking about their future beyond the 2018-2019 season. And for the Philadelphia 76ers, they have a ton of decisions to make regarding their potential gains or losses.
For next season, the Sixers only have three guys under contract. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and the rookie Zhaire Smith. The rest? Well, they would have to come back on new deals. So far, there isn't much that we know about. While Sixers' General Manager Elton Brand has made it clear that the team will prioritize bringing back two of their starters who are set to take on free agency, it's important to note that things could change.
Right now, three of the Sixers' starting five is set to take on free agency. Their three-point shooter JJ Redick is one, the mid-season acquisition Tobias Harris is another, and their clutch closer, Jimmy Butler is perhaps the most important in this case.
While Butler was the biggest gamble for the Sixers when they traded for him early on last year, the bet ended up paying off for Brand and the Sixers as he became a critical piece to their late-season run. Knowing he could get a max deal elsewhere, Butler mentioned in his exiting press conference that he would have to think long and hard about his decision. However, we know the ball is ultimately in the Sixers' court. And according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, many NBA executives are under the impression that Butler will take Philly's max offering, if they do in fact, offer it to him.
Butler, who is turning 30-years-old in September, could be looking at his final big contract in the league. Right now, the Sixers have the upper-hand considering he's already been with the team. There have been some rumors that the Sixers are expected to get Butler back on the max, and it looks like some front offices believe that does happen to be the case. But as stated before, things can change over time.
So far, the Butler experience in Philly has been a roller coaster. Early on, Butler was an excellent addition, but after the honeymoon phase, he seemingly faded out a bit as dealt with injuries and disagreements with Head Coach Brett Brown. But once the season started winding down, and the Sixers made it to the playoffs, Philly was introduced to 'Playoff Jimmy Butler,' which brought a veteran presence that they absolutely didn't have before. Giving the max to a 30-year-old player might not be ideal financially, but at the same time, the Sixers likely aren't expecting to have too many options.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_