But the 76ers coach didn’t address the bigger (though non-headlining) revelation in ESPN’s recent report on Butler – that there’s concern about his long-term fit in Philadelphia. With the NBA cracking down on tampering, teams should be wary of publicly discussing future contracts, even with their own players.
Still, the 76ers are putting out word about Butler’s upcoming free agency.
The Sixers went into the Butler experience with eyes wide open, and still hope to re-sign him this summer, sources say.
File this under: What else are they supposed to say? If they no longer plan to re-sign him, they should trade him before next month’s deadline. And if it became known don’t plan to re-sign him, that would cripple their trade leverage.
Besides, planning to keep Butler is the right approach, anyway. Sure, he’s not the most natural fit with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. But keeping Butler maximizes the 76ers’ talent level, and that’s what they need in the long run.
Butler is an excellent, versatile player. Simmons and Embiid are each in just their second mostly healthy seasons. They’ve played only 21 games together. It’s far too soon to write off this trio. Players can adjust, and importantly, Philadelphia can rebuild complementary depth in after slashing it in the deal to acquire Butler from the Timberwolves (surrendering Robert Covington and Dario Saric, two starters for one).
Of course, Butler must want to stay. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent. But the 76ers can offer the largest contract – a projected $190 million over five years (about $38 million annually). Butler’s max with another team projects to be $141 million over four years (about $35 million annually).
So, Butler and Philadelphia will likely stay the course together, even with murmurs to the contrary.