May 17, 2019
The biggest question hanging over the Philadelphia 76ers' offseason is whether or not the team will be able to re-sign Jimmy Butler, whose playoff performance validated the trade that brought him here.
Butler will be a highly coveted free agent this summer, with expected suitors in Los Angeles, New York and Brooklyn, among other potential landing spots.
The Sixers have the ability to offer Butler the most money on a max contract, but Butler has already indicated that he's got plenty in the bank. His role and the opportunity to win will likely be the determining factors, and the respect afforded by additional money will help.
Late Thursday night, Butler took to Instagram to thank Philadelphia and his Sixers teammates. That's all he said, and sometimes these posts are interpreted as a sayonara, of sorts.
There's no reason not to think that Butler will take advantage of free agency and test the open market. There also are plenty of great reasons why he would see Philadelphia as a contender and a place where he can be the veteran centerpiece for years to come.
Some Sixers fans lost their nerve over Butler's message.
@JimmyButler Thank you. Play the FA hand now. But just so you know:— Bret Stuter NBA NCAA (@milroyigglesfan) May 17, 2019
Sixers fans expect your return. You are a passionate, intelligent, determined, talented and competitive player. You deseve fans who are passionate, determined, appreciative and competitive. Come home pic.twitter.com/FbawjtkSpU
Sixers fans panicking over a Jimmy Butler Instagram thanking us for being great feels like when I'm on vacation and have a stress dream about work three days in. Our minds and bodies just don't know how to respond to chill.— Andrew Unterberger (@AUgetoffmygold) May 17, 2019
I’m gonna be crushed if we gave up Shamet, Covington, Saric for Harris and a Jimmy Butler rental.— Andru Tielur (@TielurAndru) May 17, 2019
Y’all reckon Jimmy Butler gone?? Caption a little fishy man pic.twitter.com/0GJ5pvDESL— #BR11🎨 (@soislemeilleur) May 17, 2019
If jimmy butler leaves Philly in free agency I’m deleting my account 👍 pic.twitter.com/xG1zgKlG0t— 𝑀𝒶𝓉𝓉 (@IWUVCLEM) May 17, 2019
How Sixers fans are reacting to that Jimmy Butler IG post: pic.twitter.com/kmXEwYOnmy— Sports Are Philly (@SportsArePhilly) May 17, 2019
If you Jimmy Butler leaves the Sixers I think my heart will shatter into a million pieces— crawford.26 (@connor_1312) May 17, 2019
@JimmyButler if the Sixers don't match ur price hmu I'll throw u some bills to stay— Peter LaFleur (@madonna_rama77) May 17, 2019
Jimmy Butler simply said “thank you.” If we’re getting into this mode of over-analyzing everything on May 17, this is going to be a long ass summer, fam.— Paul Hudrick (@PaulHudrick) May 17, 2019
Ultimately, Jimmy Butler is going to do what he deems best for his family and his career.
If you look at the way this past season unfolded, however, Butler staying in Philadelphia would make plenty of sense: He was given more control of the offense, bonded with his teammates, earned the trust and respect of his coach, and clearly won the hearts of the fanbase.
Anyone else's pitch to Butler is going to have to overcome all of those advantages and an extra $50 million the Sixers can offer him.
Sometimes "thank you" is as simple as being grateful for what you have — we hope.