By Sterling Bennett, lead writer at BushLeagueSports
Hours away from the start of NBA Free Agency and another star may have found a new home.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, and Miami Heat have been working to coerce Jimmy Butler to join their team for the long-term. It seems Butler has already made his decision.
On Twitter, Butler responded to a tweet from former All-Pro NFL receiver and Miami resident Chad Ochocinco possibly giving away his free agency decision.
ASAP after I get a contract done.. you’ll be the first I call. I want the footrace first tho. Slow ass. https://t.co/kdSlQTpBaI— Jimmy Butler (@JimmyButler) June 30, 2019
Like many of the already ‘agreed’ to moves, nothing can become official until 6 pm eastern standard time on Sunday. Signing Butler will not be as easy as others due to Miami’s cap restrictions meaning the team will have to elect to a sign-and-trade with the Sixers.
The Heat are scheduled to incur a luxury tax bill above $12 million, making the Butler acquisition only possible if the team is able to reduce the cap by over $20 million.
Dumping Hassan Whiteside’s $27 million salary for the 2019-’20 season looks like the best and most logical option. A trade involving forward Josh Richardson paired with Goran Dragic or Ryan Anderson would also get the job done and secure enough money to acquire Butler.
The Heat are the team to look out for in the 2019 and 2020 free agency market. After the 2019 season, Miami will have an estimated $37 million to spend freeing up enough space for a max contract. If the team is able to acquire Butler and shed large money contracts, the Heat will have a max contract player already on the roster in Butler and the ability to add one more.
While the 2020 free agency class may not boast names like Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard, the 2021 class consists of All-Stars Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and possibly LeBron James.