Buzz connecting Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia 76ers intensifies amid recent rumors

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Christopher Creveling-USA TODAY Sports

According to longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein, teams around the league have pondered whether the Philadelphia 76ers will pursue a reunion with Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler.

“Jimmy Butler’s future in Miami has become an increasingly hot topic in league circles in the wake of the Heat’s first-round exit,” Stein wrote.

Butler is under contract with the Heat through the 2024-25 campaign but has a player option on his deal for the 2025-26 season.

“More than rival one team out there has likewise wondered whether Philadelphia, in the wake of its first-round exit, will mount a trade run at Butler to reacquire Joel Embiid’s close friend if the 76ers are unsuccessful in using their projected $50-plus million in salary cap space to acquire presumed top target Paul George,” Stein wrote.

A six-time All-Star, Butler has been linked to the 76ers in recent days. NBA insider Brian Windhorst recently said that Philadelphia may target Butler this offseason.

Rumors regarding a possible breakup between Butler and the Heat have surfaced, with some speculating that Darly Morey is behind the leaks.

The 34-year-old’s stint as a member of the 76ers was brief. After all, he spent less than one full season with the franchise, considering he was dealt from the Minnesota Timberwolves to Philadelphia during the 2018-19 regular season.

Butler and Justin Patton were traded to the 76ers in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a second-round draft pick.

In 55 regular-season appearances with Philadelphia, Butler averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per contest on 46.1 percent shooting from the floor and 33.8 percent from 3-point range.

The forward was unspectacular in his first playoff series as a member of the 76ers. In Philadelphia’s 2019 first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets, Butler averaged just 15.8 points per game while shooting 27.3 percent from 3-point range, but despite his underwhelming play, the 76ers won the series comfortably in five games.

Butler played at a much higher level against Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors — who later went on to win the 2019 NBA title — in the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. His scoring average rose from 15.8 to 22.0 points per game, and he also averaged more rebounds (7.0) and assists (5.6) per game than he did compared to the opening round.

Thanks in part to the former Marquette University standout’s excellent play against Toronto, the 76ers were incredibly close to reaching the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals. It took seven games for the Raptors to eliminate Philadelphia, and Toronto won the deciding Game 7 by just two points after Leonard hit a game-winner.

Regardless if the 76ers seriously pursue a trade for Butler or not, it’s hard to imagine that Philadelphia will run it back with the same roster next season, considering the team lost in the opening round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs to the New York Knicks.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.