Jimmy Butler may not be in the same tier as the Kawhi Leonards, Kevin Durants and Kyrie Irvings of this summer’s free-agent class, but he’s still an elite talent who should command a max contract next month.
There will be shortage of suitors for the 29-year-old four-time All-Star, with oddsmakers setting a return to his current team the most likely option.
888Sport posted NBA betting odds on Butler’s free-agent destination, and the Philadelphia 76ers are the clear leaders at -225. A handful of other teams, including the Knicks, Lakers and Nets, are also in the mix in what should be a wild summer of stars on the move.
Jimmy Butler Free Agency Odds
|New York Knicks||+500|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+700|
This is why the odds stand as they are:
76ers Can Offer Butler Most Money
There’s a belief that Butler is looking to cash in on what will likely be the final big payday of his NBA career. Put another way, Butler will go wherever the highest bid comes from. If that’s the case, the Sixers can top any offer.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported in early June that the Sixers were planning on offering Butler a max contract, though he wasn’t sure if that would include a guaranteed fifth year. Even if the Sixers only offer a four-year max deal, it would be worth more than any other team could give Butler over the same span.
If Jimmy Butler re-signs with the 76ers next summer, I predict it’ll be for less than his full 5 year, $190M max. I think Philly will try to avoid the fifth year. Other teams can offer up to $141M over 4 years, while the Sixers can offer $146M over the first 4 years.— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) November 12, 2018
Butler averaged 19.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists in the postseason and was arguably Philadelphia’s best player. They also gave up assets in Robert Covington and Dario Saric to acquire Butler back in November, so they have incentive to re-sign him.
A three-headed monster of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Butler can and will compete in the Eastern Conference like they did this season, taking the Toronto Raptors to seven games in Round 2.
Lakers Have Big Market Butler Desires
Butler is from Texas but his transformation to NBA superstar has him in Los Angeles quite a bit each offseason. It’s where he does most of his training and he’s become best friends with actor Mark Wahlberg. Butler, who has also become big in the fashion scene, feels like he was built for Los Angeles.
When @ColinCowherd asked me this morning on @TheHerd what star player the Lakers could realistically sign, I didn’t waste any time saying Jimmy Butler. He likes L.A, LeBron James has been in touch with him and he would join the Lakers in a second if they offered him a max deal. pic.twitter.com/wXStzcAFzh— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 24, 2019
It also doesn’t hurt that Butler was teammates with Dwyane Wade in Chicago for a year in 2016. Wade, of course, is best friends with LeBron James, and there’s always the possibility that Wade could act as a fellow recruit in bringing Butler on board to join James and the Lakers.
Butler and James had plenty of battles in the East during Butler’s Bulls days, so he knows what it’s like to compete against the game’s best.
If the Lakers strike out on the Tier 1 free agents, Butler could act as an excellent consolation prize. Plus, the Lakers inquired about trading for Butler before the Timberwolves sent him to Philadelphia. The Lakers are +700 to sign Butler this offseason.
Knicks Will Have Plenty of Cap Space
If we’re discussing money and available cap space, the conversation begins with the New York Knicks. They will have more than $72 million in cap space with just five players under contract, meaning they can lure two max free agents.
Prior to Durant’s Achilles injury, the belief was the Knicks were looking at adding Kyrie Irving and Durant to fill those two max slots.
If Durant’s injury is as serious as many believe, or if he opts in to his final year with the Warriors because of it, the Knicks may have to look elsewhere to fill those slots. And if Leonard remains in Toronto after an historic postseason, Butler may be the next best option for the Knicks.
It helps that he’s good friends with Kyrie Irving, and the two have been linked as wanting to play together for years. For those reasons, the Knicks are +500 to sign Butler this summer.
Nets Feel Like a Realistic Dark Horse
Much of the above can also be said for the other team in New York. The Brooklyn Nets could have up to $68 million in free agency this summer if they renounce D’Angelo Russell’s rights, and that would give them room for two max free agents.
They don’t have the same brand appeal as the Knicks, but they’re also a team that won 42 games a year ago and went to the postseason. Butler and Irving could team up in Brooklyn and have a much better supporting cast that could make them contenders in the East.
GM Sean Marks is one of the best in the business, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pull off a free agency upset. They’re a dark horse with good value at +1400.