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Philadelphia 76ers swingman Jimmy Butler could be searching for yet another new team during the offseason, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
Butler will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and, per Deveney, may be leaning angling to sign with the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets, with the Sixers and Los Angeles Clippers in play, too.
Butler, of course, created all sorts of drama with the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to the season after requesting a trade. He then reported to the Timberwolves and played, all while maintaining his stance on being elsewhere had not changed. The Sixers acquired him in November, knowing he could bolt in free agency over the summer.
They then traded for then-Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris in early February — and Harris’ presence reportedly could soften the blow in the event Butler decides to move on.
“Since the Harris trade went down, (Butler leaving in free agency) has been considered the most likely outcome in Philadelphia,” Deveney reported. “There have been chemistry issues with Butler, though certainly not on the scale we saw in Minnesota, and front-office sources believe he will angle to go to either Brooklyn or New York, with the Clippers a possibility, too.
“That’s not ruling out a return to the Sixers, but Philadelphia needs to be cautious about making a five-year commitment to a player who turns 30 in September.”
While Butler is still viewed as a talented player, a lot of front-office types wonder whether the distraction his presence often causes is worth it — especially, as Deveney mentioned, Butler turns 30 before the start of next season.
If the Sixers advance to the Finals, things may be different. But if not, they will likely be more than willing to let Butler walk, rather than pay him huge money when he’s proven to be something short of a perfect fit.
Harris, on the other hand, is viewed as a team-first player known for the positive example he sets in both the locker room and on the court.
Butler is averaging 19.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 50 games with the Sixers. That is his lowest average in each category since the 2013-14 season — though the slight drop in numbers is entirely understandable, given the fact Butler is lining up next to the likes of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Harris and J.J. Redick.