Rockets to aggressively pursue free agent wing Butler

Sixers swingman Jimmy Butler is among the most prized free agents on the market this summer.

The Houston Rockets are among the teams that intend to aggressively pursue free agent swingman Jimmy Butler, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.

Butler declined the option on his contract and is unrestricted free agency after finishing the season with the Philadelphia 76ers. He was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves in November — and before the trade, the Rockets reportedly offered several players and multiple first-round picks to the Timberwolves for Butler.

Butler, 29, averaged 18.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in 55 games with the Sixers during the regular season. The Sixers lost to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Butler has also been linked to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets. Also, a return to the Sixers is not out of the question.

“Knock on wood, I will get a max contract no matter where I go,” Butler said in May. “You always want to be able to win. I think that’s key, for sure. You’re looking at coaches, you’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

Meanwhile, while Rockets general manager Daryl Morey strongly denied the team is looking to trade Chris Paul, it is believed the team will explore other deals this offseason. If they hope to land a player such as Butler, trades will actually be required to clear salary-cap space.

Along with Butler, Sixers starters Tobias Harris and J.J. Redick are also unrestricted free agents.

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