To quote the iconic 90’s boy band N*Sync, “Is this the beginning or beginning of the end?” Jimmy Butler took to Instagram last night for the first time since the Sixers were bounced by
an inferior team carried by one superstar player with minimal contributions from anyone else, like watching AI carry the 00-01 Sixers Toronto in Game 7:
Butler’s message, “to philly, and my teammates. THANK YOU. ❤️❤️” was met with a bunch of disappointment mixed with a smattering of positivity. I don’t know what exactly fans were hoping to see from Butler. It was highly unlikely that he’d say much more. In fact, for some context, he never posted a thank you or farewell to the Minnesota fans following his trade from T’Wolves back in November. He did, however, break his Instagram silence following the trade with this:
It’s entirely possible that Rajon Rondo was right and that Butler is going to leave town, with rumors swirling that LA and New York are the only two markets he’d have eyes for if he were to walk away from the Sixers. Of course, it’s also possible that Butler wants to maintain his negotiating leverage with the Sixers, who could offer him more money and a fifth year on a max deal. Maybe he’s been told the team is interested in a 3-year, $75m extension and he wants to test the market first.
I think it would be a mistake to let Jimmy walk, especially with how he performed in the postseason and stepped up as a leader on the team, most notably joining Joel Embiid for postgame press availability. I’d also be remiss to not express how devastating a five year max deal could be to the team. We’ve already seen guys like Russell Westbrook, John Wall, and Chris Paul ink massive deals, catch a few injuries, and now present their teams an albatross of a contract. Now, if you’re Josh Harris, do you throw the max at Butler knowing that the next round of CBA negotiations could potentially provide an amnesty buyout? If there’s any confidence of buying out those last two or three seasons, Harris and his ownership group should offer Butler the max.