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Heat land NBA’s vagabond star in Jimmy Butler

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Jimmy Butler is unapologetically Jimmy Butler.

Tough. Determined. Headstrong.

Dwyane Wade, self-proclaimed Heat Lifer, was on furlough in Miami and playing with Butler on the Bulls in 2016. Butler has chafed many of his teammates. Not Wade.

“He’s as advertised,” Wade said as a compliment.

Several years later, endorsements like that led to a surprising union between Butler and the Heat. In Wade’s long-term franchise, Butler might have finally found a team that appreciates everything he brings.

Before that, Butler had to run through tenures with the Bulls, Timberwolves and 76ers. Miami had to undertake an ambitious plan to pursue a max player despite having minimal cap flexibility.

But now Butler and the Heat are now committed to each other. This is a chance for Miami to move out of deadlock and Butler to find a home.

Butler is now on his fourth team in four years. Chicago lost interest in Butler’s hard-charging ways. Butler ran out of patience in Minnesota, where their top young players resisted his message. Butler had tension in Philadelphia, too.

He has also had plenty of success in each of those stops. In the previous three years, he has produced 30.6 win shares (11th in the NBA).

Only three players in NBA history have had more win shares while playing for four teams in four years. And that counts absolutely no production for Butler with the Heat next season, which obviously hasn’t yet begun!

Here are the players with the most win shares while playing for at least four teams in four years:


One more time because it’s so incredible: This counts nothing yet from Butler next season! He has a good chance of climbing this list and passing Gary Payton, Ed Sadowski and maybe Adrian Dantley.

Getting such an impact player cost the Heat plenty. They lost Josh Richardson and a first-round pick and downgraded from Hassan Whiteside to Myles Leonard in the sign-and-trade with the 76ers. Hard-capped due to acquiring Butler in a sign-and-trade, Miami also waived and stretched Ryan Anderson, locking in a $5,214,583 cap hit each of the next three seasons. And the Heat owe Butler $140,790,600 over the next four seasons. That’s a lot for someone who’ll turn 30 before the season and has heavy mileage.

But Butler is a true star who could break Miami from its capped-out mediocrity. Other offseason additions like No. 13 pick Tyler Herro and No. 32 pick KZ Okpala probably aren’t going to do that. The Heat might even impress enough with Butler to land another star in 2021 free agency.

There’s a limit on how much Butler will help. He probably doesn’t lift Miami into the East’s elite. His contract could age poorly.

But for a stuck team, a willingness to embrace the hard-charging Butler is a clear advancement.

Offseason grade: C+

Report: Heat using Clippers as fourth team to complete Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade

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The Heat – after agreeing to send Josh Richardson to the 76ers in a sign-and-trade for a maxed-out Jimmy Butler, having the Mavericks fall through as the third team in the deal, roping in the Trail Blazers – will add the Clippers as the fourth team in a deal that hopefully each side understands.

Miami will still get Butler, still send Richardson to Philadelphia. Portland will still get Hassan Whiteside for Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard. But Harkless will now go to L.A. with a first-round pick attached from Miami as a sweetener for taking his $11,511,234 salary.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is a very different trade than the ones (plural!) Miami and Dallas agreed to. The Heat will seemingly keep Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. – three players who can help around Butler.

Instead, Miami downgrades from Whiteside to Leonard and surrenders a first-rounder. Bam Adebayo can step into a larger role at center. The protections on that first-round pick will be highly important, especially as the Heat continue with this older, capped-out team.

The Heat could still make other moves to trim salary. If they don’t, they’ll likely stretch Ryan Anderson. That’d add a $5,214,583 cap hit each of the next three seasons – another cost of this new trade structure.

This could be a nice windfall for the Clippers, again depending on the pick protections. Harkless can play, and there’s plenty of upside with Miami picks. Importantly, L.A. preserves max cap space for Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers surely hoped to lure better complementary players than Harkless, but with the market drying up quickly, Harkless doesn’t look so bad. And the pick could be a valuable long-term asset.

Report: Heat, Mavericks blame each other for trade falling through

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The Heat reportedly agreed to trade Goran Dragic to the Mavericks. The Mavericks reportedly agreed to trade for Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. from the Heat.

But Miami and Dallas didn’t agree to the same deals.

As a result, the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade between the 76ers and Heat hangs in the balance. That deal would send Josh Richardson to Philadelphia and help the 76ers clear cap space to sign Al Horford, who opted out with the Celtics to get this big contract. So, the ripple effects are far-reaching.

What went wrong between the Heat and the Mavericks?

Tim Cato of The Athletic:

At some point, Miami became convinced that it was sending Goran Dragic to Dallas, league sources told me and The Athletic’s Jared Weiss. The two sides have been arguing over how the miscommunication happened and which side is to blame.

All this confusion and not a single Brooks involved. I’m not sure whose fault this is, but with Butler set to join them and Philadelphia counting on that, the Heat face a lot of pressure to get something done.

To acquire a maxed-out Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade, Miami must send out at least $15,997,024 of salary in addition to Richardson’s in the deal. Salaries of the maybe-involved players:

  • Dragic: $19,217,900
  • Olynyk: $12,667,886
  • Jones: $1,645,357

The Heat must also stay below the hard cap ($138,928,000), which is triggered by acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade. That requires shedding even more salary, though it doesn’t have to be done in the Butler trade.

Stretching Ryan Anderson ($15,643,750 guaranteed next season) would help, but that can be only one aspect of the deal.

Meanwhile, teams like the Knicks, Clippers and Mavericks are filling their cap space. Miami is running out of places to unload salary.

Report: Jimmy Butler will tell Heat he wants to play in Miami

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What Jimmy Butler wants and what Jimmy Butler has to accept may be two different things.

Or, is Jimmy Butler using Miami to get what he really wants — a full five-year max from Philadelphia?

While Butler is coveted by teams everywhere from Los Angeles to New York — literally — his heart is apparently in Miami, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

In terms of fit and culture, Butler would be perfect in Miami. Whether that actually comes to pass is something else entirely.

The buzz around the league for a while has been that what Butler really wants is a fully guaranteed, five-year, $191 million offer from Philadelphia and that all the other rumors — Miami, a sign-and-trade with Houston, joining Kevin Durant on the Clippers, etc. — are all really about pressuring Philly to give up that money. The Sixers, reportedly and understandably, are hesitant to give a full five years to Butler, who is about to turn 30 and has an injury history.

That said, Philly wants to retain Butler and would only relent to a sign-and-trade if Butler both demanded it and threatened to leave to a third team with cap space if the Sixers did not make the trade. The Lakers and Nets have cap space and interest in Butler, and the Lakers are reportedly being very aggressive now (what that says about their pursuit of Kawhi Leonard is interesting).

With Miami, it will likely take a third team to get a deal done. No way the Sixers agree to take on the salaries of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, or Ryan Anderson. Some combination of Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson would work for Philly, but not Miami.

Butler remains one of the real wild cards in free agency, even if what he wants is to be in Miami.

Reports: Jimmy Butler to meet with Sixers, Heat, Rockets, among other options

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Jimmy Butler has options as a free agent starting at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday.

The question becomes, are the options beyond the Philadelphia 76ers being leaked — including Miami and Houston, who need to do a sign-and-trade to land Butler — to put pressure on Philly to make sure it gives him a five-year, $191 million max offer (which the Sixers have said they would do, but everyone knows the last couple years of that contract could be rough).

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic Tweeted this out on Saturday.

Those “sign-and-trades” appear more smokescreen than reality. Philadelphia wants to keep Butler and would only agree to a sign-and-trade if Butler requested it and threatened to leave to a third team with cap space if the Sixers did not make the trade. The Lakers and Nets have cap space and interest in Butler, at least if their top targets chose other destinations (Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant), but Butler would have to wait for the first dominoes to fall. Also, if Leonard/Durant falls through, the Lakers and Nets are not going to wait around for Butler to use them as leverage to force a trade, it may well be days into free agency when Leonard and Durant make their calls, and by that point the Lakers and Nets will need to move fast.

In the case of Miami, it’s hard to imagine a sign-and-trade Philly would agree to even then because they don’t want Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, or Ryan Anderson. Kelly Olynyk and Josh Richardson would work for Philly, but not Miami. The Rockets offer with some combination of Clint Capela (maybe traded for a pick to be part of this deal), Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker makes a lot more sense for Philly. But again, only if they are forced into this.

The real question for Butler is what offer do the Sixers put on the table to open free agency. If it is the full five-year max at $191 million, with no team options, it’s hard to picture Butler turning it down. In part because it’s a lot of money, and in part because he sees his career as the underappreciated underdog and this would be a level of validation he has never had before.

Then again, he might turn that offer down to chase a title on his own terms. Maybe team up with Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers?

Butler has all these options and more (the Knicks among them), and in a summer of unpredictable free agency Butler could be the biggest wild card in the deck.