Sixers managing partner and owner Josh Harris is both determined and optimistic that Jimmy Butler will remain with the team beyond this season, as he told USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt and The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The Butler trade was made to give the franchise a third star alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and become a serious championship contender. It wouldn’t have happened unless the Sixers were convinced they could keep Butler, who can opt out of his contract this summer, in the long run.
“We’ve been saying since the summer we’ve been looking for another star and we felt we needed another shooter, a three-and-D wing, someone like Jimmy,” Harris told Zillgitt. “They’re hard to find at this elite level. We know who we have to get through to win the East. It’s obvious who it is. We think this is a piece we needed.”
While Butler became a major distraction around the Timberwolves, he’s been a model citizen since joining the Sixers. And Philadelphia anticipates that its gamble will pay off in the long run in the form of a multi-year contract.
“Our goal is to have elite talent under contract for a long time,” Harris told Charania. “That’s what we’re interested in.”
Both reporters offered insights into the trade discussions involving Butler. The Sixers eventually agreed to deal Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a future second-rounder for Butler and throw-in Justin Patton.
- The Timberwolves initially asked for another starter in addition to the trio the Sixers dealt, according to Zillgitt.
- Minnesota narrowed its offers to three teams, with the Pelicans and Rockets being the other finalists, according to Charania. New Orleans dangled forward Nikola Mirotic and a first-round pick, while Houston was willing to part with guard Eric Gordon and two first-rounders.
- The Sixers initially offered draft picks and other large contracts, Harris told Charania. Markelle Fultz was discussed in the Butler talks.
- Other suitors, such as the Lakers, wanted to wait until the December 15th date when signed free agents could be included in a deal for Butler, Charania added.