With free agency just days away, the rumors and reports are swirling more than ever. The biggest story surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers revolves around Jimmy Butler. The Houston Rockets are reportedly going to try and recruit Butler to push the Sixers to do a sign-and-trade.

Butler, 29, is a native of Tomball, Texas, which is less than 40 miles from downtown Houston. On June 18, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Butler and Rockets superstar James Harden were in contact about potentially playing together in Houston.

What we haven't seen at this point is two things. First, there hasn't been anything from Butler or his camp suggesting that he views Houston as a preferred landing spot. Secondly, the Sixers would have to be open to doing this sign-and-trade. If push comes to shove, they may be willing to cooperate, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick:

As for the key question of whether the Sixers would be willing to cooperate in a possible sign-and-trade, a source with knowledge of their situation said it’s looking likely. There is, it seems, a strong desire to avoid losing him for nothing if Butler decides to head elsewhere. 

Philadelphia acquired Butler and Justin Patton from the Timberwolves in November for Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless. 

Earlier in the week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that despite Houston's push for a sign-and-trade, the Sixers are confident that they will be able to bring back Butler and Tobias Harris. 

Considering there hasn't been anything out of Butler's at this point that wouldn't be considered tampering, it is difficult to figure out how hard to read into this.

Houston would likely have to find a third team to acquire a first-round pick from to flip to the Sixers. Philadelphia also doesn't have much use for Clint Capela, who Wojnarowski wrote could be included in a potential sign-and-trade. Capela is entering the second year of a five-year, $90 million contract and he's set to make $15 million+ in each of the next four seasons.

Other names being tossed around are Eric Gordon, who is on an expiring contract at $14 million, and 34-year-old veteran P.J. Tucker. Gordon could provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting help, especially if JJ Redick and Tobias Harris do not return.

At this point, Houston is doing all they can to try and lure Butler back to his hometown. That being said, if Elton Brand comes out with a five-year, $190 million max contract for Butler on the first day of free agency, it would be hard to believe he'd turn that down.

Brandon Apter is a Sixers contributor for 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on Twitter @bapter23.

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