2019 NBA Free Agents: Jimmy Butler
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: Jimmy Butler (aka Jimmy G. Buckets - the G stands for gets) is hitting unrestricted free agency and looking to get paid. An elite two-way player, Butler will certainly demand a max contract wherever he chooses to go. After being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers a month into last season, Butler became a critical player for the Sixers in the playoffs and was a key factor in pushing the Toronto Raptors to their limits in seven games.
Regular Season Stats: 18.7 points, 4.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.5 turnovers per game on 46.2 FG%, 34.7 3FG%, and 85.5 FT% shooting.
Postseason Stats: 19.4 points, 5.2 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.6 blocks, and 1.8 turnovers per game on 45.1 FG%, 26.7 3FG%, and 87.5 FT% shooting.
Strengths: Butler’s greatest strengths are his tenacity, fearlessness, and two-way play. He can do a little of everything on the offensive end, making it difficult to completely shut him down. Butler is also a clutch player that won’t shy away from the moment should he be called upon for a late game bucket. An elite perimeter defender, Butler will take on the challenge of defending the opposing team’s best perimeter player. He’s the kind of guy that’ll steal the ball, race down in transition, and drain a three or throw down a loud dunk to swing a game. Another major strength is his commitment to improve, always putting in the work in the offseason to come back better next year.
Weaknesses: Butler is an extremely well-rounded player with only a few weaknesses. While he’s certainly a good offensive player, he’s not necessarily the kind of elite offensive player that can’t be stopped. His shot is good but not great as well. With the energy he expends on the defensive end, Butler can’t shoulder a huge offensive load due to his aggressive driving style. His other main weakness, more like a concern though, is how much of his game is based on physicality. He’ll definitely put in the work to keep his body in the best shape possible, but that doesn’t mean he won’t age poorly in the later years of his contract.
Ideal Role: Butler is at his best when he can fit in as a secondary option on offense, attacking a broken down defense, or spotting up. This’ll allow him to keep his energy for the defensive end where he’ll equally shine defending elite perimeter players.
Possible Landing Spots:
Los Angeles Lakers: Butler would fit in perfectly on the Lakers roster next to Anthony Davis and LeBron James. He could stick to his strengths as either the secondary or tertiary option on the offensive end while bringing some much-needed perimeter defense on the other end. He’s comfortable playing the shooting guard role, having done so at the start of his career, and so could slide in there while LeBron occupies the small forward spot. The Lakers have also expressed confidence they could sign Butler, should they free up some additional money to make a max offer.
Brooklyn Nets: Back before Butler was traded to the Sixers, he had given the Minnesota Timberwolves a list of preferred teams. One of the teams on that list was the Brooklyn Nets, who opened up enough cap space for two max slots last month. Kyrie Irving, a good friend of Butler, is rumored to be ready to sign one of those max offers. Should he wish to join him, Butler would fit in well in Brooklyn similarly as he would in LA.
Expected Next Contract: Regardless of where he decides to play, Butler will get the max contract he wants. If the Lakers open up max money, it would give Butler his best chance to get paid and compete for titles alongside James and Davis. I think the Lakers can open up that space and land a third player for their superteam.