More Sports:

May 04, 2024

What they're saying: Could the Sixers go for a Jimmy Butler reunion?

A crucial offseason lies ahead for the Sixers. Paul George is one of the major immediate names being thrown out there, but Jimmy Butler might be in the mix, too.

Sixers NBA
Joel-Embiid-Jimmy-Butler-Sixers-Heat-4.6.23-NBA.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Is the idea of Jimmy Butler coming back to the Sixers a possibility or wishful thinking?

So here we are – again. 

Another Sixers postseason run stopped well short of title aspirations. Another playoff series where Joel Embiid had to battle through injury, only to be met with a wall again. And another offseason where the front office will still be left looking for ways to finally push the team over that hump that has stood for years now. 

And weirdly enough, this playoff defeat somehow wasn't as painful as the others. The Knicks played them tough, and granted, the Sixers set themselves back – a lot – but they kept battling. 

Is it admiration? Or are fans just numb to this kind of thing now? 

Either way, here's what they're saying about the Sixers and early reads of a crucial offseason...

A Butler reunion?

David Aldridge | The Athletic

It's going to take a bit more time for the dust to settle, but one of the immediate points to highlight for the offseason in the immediate aftermath of the first-round loss was that the Sixers will have tons of picks and tons of cap space, which means tons of options, including a major one if there is a deal to be made with the Miami Heat. 

Per Aldridge, the Heat are likely to be facing a decision over where to take their club next, and that will include whether star veteran Jimmy Butler remains part of that picture. 

And that could create the opening for the Sixers to swoop in with an offer. 

Wrote Aldridge:

Embiid and Butler left on good terms when Butler went to Miami, and they remain solid friends. Embiid made his feelings about Butler clear when Butler went on a 56-point heater against Milwaukee in the first round last year. The feelings appear to be mutual. Embiid seemed more than willing to cede some of the spotlight to Maxey; it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be willing to do the same for Butler, given the latter’s postseason impact. (It is fair to question, though, whether Maxey would be as free as he was this season to create and seek scoring opportunities with the thirsty Butler aboard.)

The Sixers have multiple future first-round picks, along with their own 2024 selection, that they could put in a potential package for Butler. They don’t, though, have existing players under contract that would likely entice the Heat to the bargaining table. A third team would likely be needed to provide players who would fit [a Bam Adebayo/Tyler Herro] timeline for Miami. With the new collective bargaining agreement rules clamping down on aggregation in trades for teams that have hit the second tax apron, multi-team deals aren’t as easy to make as they used to be. But they aren’t impossible. [The Athletic]

Butler will turn 35 in September. He's only going to have so many shots at a championship left, but at the same time, the Sixers might be down to their last shot with Embiid leading the charge, too. 

More for George?

Brian Windhorst | ESPN

Paul George looks to be the immediate big name in play for the Sixers, however, which will almost assuredly take a max contract (that they can afford now) and a decision on George's part to move on from the Clippers. 

ESPN insider Brian Windhorst believes this is where Daryl Morey will "go to work," be it through a big free agency signing or trade. 

What Windhorst had to say about the Sixers, George, and the Clippers:

The Clippers lost their first-round series to the Mavericks after this. 

Windhorst also puts the Butler possibility in play, along with a pursuit of Brandon Ingram as another potential route. 

The LeBron play?

Sam Quinn | CBS Sports

Always a seeming long shot, but always thrown out there regardless. 

The Lakers also dipped out of the first round in a 4-1 series loss to the defending champion Nuggets, and now LeBron James faces another decision over where to go next. 

He's 39 and will turn 40 midway through next season. He really doesn't have much, if anything, left to prove as a player. His spot as one of the all-time greats is already well-cemented. But if he's after one more championship before he calls it a career, Sam Quinn argues that the Sixers might offer him the best shot, provided he doesn't just stay put in LA.

Wrote Quinn:

Philadelphia isn't quite as title-desperate as New York, but it's been over 40 years since the 76ers last raised a banner. It's a similarly sports-crazed northeastern city, and given where the 76ers are in their contending cycle, they're likely to be somewhat more receptive to James as a conquering hero than the Knicks would be. Philadelphia has watched Embiid-led teams lose in every possible way in the postseason. Their fans know changes are needed. Knicks fans—justifiably—have practically deified Jalen Brunson. They love the version of the team that currently exists and might not be especially eager to break it up, even partially, for a short-term James rental. A New York title probably means more, but a Philadelphia title probably comes with more credit.

James would probably prefer to win in Los Angeles if possible. The "if possible" moniker there is key. Both the Lakers and the 76ers have injury-prone star big men. Embiid is the better of the two players. Davis, given his defensive versatility and comfort diving on pick-and-rolls, might be the easier fit. The Lakers don't have a Maxey-caliber guard, but they're reportedly trying to improve their backcourt this offseason. Perhaps they could trade for a player that functions similarly. They had one of the NBA's worst head coaches in Darvin Ham this season. They seem interested in upgrading next season. They lack Philadelphia's cap space, but they have a number of worthwhile role players already in place. [CBS Sports]

I object to the "title-desperate" part of that, but still, big offseason for the Sixers coming up and no option should probably be dismissed.

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports