The Miami Heat and Philadelphia Sixers want to work out a Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade deal worth $142 million, however they’re searching for a suitable third-party team to facilitate the trade after the Dallas Mavericks backed out due to a miscommunication issue.
Butler, 29, averaged 18.7 points with the Sixers last season on team loaded with talent in the starting five that included Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons.
The Sixers want to sign-and trade Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat for shooting guard Josh Richardson, while the Heat would also send Goran Dragic to the Dallas Mavericks to complete the deal.
Richardson, 25, averaged a career-high 16.6 points per game during a breakout season with the Heat.
Initially, reports got out that the Dallas Mavericks were the third team in the deal and that the Miami Heat would be shipping Goran Dragic to the Mavericks.
The Heat must trade players worth at least $26 million in salary. Richardson will earn $10 million next season, but they’re still on the hook for $16 more million. Goran Dragic will be due $19.2 million next season and seemed like the logical choice to deal, but the Mavs didn’t want him.
The Mavs nixed the deal due to a communication issue because they wanted Kelly Olynyk ($12.6 million) and Derrick Jones ($1.7 million) instead of Dragic. The Heat did not want to part with Jones, so negotiations fell apart. Besides, Olynyk and Jones’ combined salary fell $1.3 million short of their required parameters.
No Goran, No Deal
Dragic, 37, played 11 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 20-plus twice in his career. Three seasons ago, he averaged 20.3 points per game for the Miami Heat.
The Heat thought Dragic would be a good fit for the Mavs because he’s the only other Slovenian player in the NBA aside from rookie superstar Luka Doncic.
The Mavs analytics team, which includes former high-stakes poker pro and pro sports bettor Haralabos Voulgaris, didn’t like the fact Dragic made too much money at $19.2 million.
“In analyzing it, his salary was too high based on other things they’re trying to do,” Dragic’s agent Bill Duffy told ESPN.
Both teams are still seeking a suitable third party to move the other $16 million in salary. It just might take a little longer than everyone expected.
Meanwhile, the Heat still want to trade Dragic. Perhaps the Clippers will be interested with or without Kawhi Leonard? The Lakers and Knicks are one of the few teams that have the room to accommodate Dragic’s salary.
Minny to Philly to South Beach?
It’s been a wild year for Jimmy Butler. He rehabbed an injury in the offseason but word got out he would not be reporting to training camp because he wanted out of Minnesota.
It’s not the first time a star point guard wanted out of the frigid Minnesota winters. Stephon Marbury was one of the original first round draft picks from the fledgling new franchise in Minnesota. Marbury hated the snow, wind, and cold so he demanded out of the Wolves.
Butler eventually got dealt to the Philadelphia Sixers for Robert Covington and Dario Saric. The Sixers added Butler to a young team that had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Before the trade deadline, the Sixers acquired Tobias Harris because the Clippers were clearing cap space to make a run at Kawhi. The Sixers added more firepower to an already solid line up.
The Sixers were stocked with one of the premier starting line ups in the league. Yet, the eventual world champions knocked them out of the playoffs in seven games.
Now that the season is over, the Sixers would like to get some compensation for Butler considering they lost Covington and Saric to Minnesota in the original trade.
The Houston Rockets also wanted Butler pretty badly, but they were not in the proper financial shape to acquire him. Plus, GM Daryl Morey had still yet to trade Chris Paul, who apparently had a falling out with All-Star James Harden during a tumultuous postseason.
Butler narrowed his focus down to one team. It would be the Miami Heat or bust.
Rough and Gassy Postseason in Philly
The Sixers locked up the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They easily beat the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round. However, Joel Embiid suffered multiple maladies including stomach issues during the Eastern Semifinals against Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors in an up-and-down seven-game series.
Ben Simmons had an awful postseason in which his girlfriend Kendall Jenner broke up with him and went to Coachella instead of watching him in the NBA playoffs. She had been a good luck charm for the team during the regular season. The team sorely missed her.
The Sixers were within an inch of advancing to the East Finals until Kawhi Leonard hit his infamous fade-away jumper that bounced multiple times on the rim before falling in for a game-winner and series-clinching buzzer beater.
Butler excelled in the playoffs on both ends of the court averaging 19.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game.
With Butler about to head out the front door, the Sixers signed Tobias Harris to a multi-year deal. For now, the Sixers will focus on their core trio of Embiid, Simmons, and Harris. They also would like to sign Al Horford with leftover cap space once Butler leaves.