Rockets Expected To Pursue Jimmy Butler

The Rockets came up short in their pursuit of Jimmy Butler during the 2018/19 season when the standout forward was on the trade block, despite reportedly offering a package that featured four first-round picks. With Butler on track to reach free agency this summer, the Rockets are expected to once again aggressively go after the 29-year-old, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter links), who reports that Butler’s name will be atop Houston’s offseason wish list.

As Smith explains, the Rockets consider Butler an ideal fit on both ends of the court, viewing him as a piece that could push the team over the hump in the Western Conference. Per Smith, Houston’s ideal scenario would be to add Butler to its James Harden/Chris Paul pairing, despite rumors of significant discord between the two guards.

Smith’s report lines up with recent comments made by general manager Daryl Morey, who talked about the possibility of adding a third star to the Rockets’ roster this offseason.

Although the Rockets would love to add Butler and the Houston native may have interest in joining his hometown team, the club’s salary cap situation will make it difficult — especially since Butler has talked about expecting to sign a maximum-salary contract, which would start at about $32.7MM.

There’s no realistic way for the Rockets to create the cap room necessary to sign Butler to anything close to the max, so that’s likely not an option. That leaves two other potential pathways — a sign-and-trade or an opt-in-and-trade.

A sign-and-trade would require the Sixers to be on board, which means the Rockets would have to send some appealing assets Philadelphia’s way, including perhaps shooting guard Eric Gordon. Even then, salary-matching would be difficult and might require a third team to trade for Clint Capela or another Rocket. Houston would also be hard-capped in that scenario, significantly limiting the club’s flexibility.

[RELATED: Why NBA Sign-And-Trades Are Rare]

If Butler were to exercise his $19.84MM player option for 2019/20 instead of opting out as planned, it’d create a much cleaner path to a deal. The two teams could then negotiate a straight trade, like the Rockets and Clippers did two years ago when Paul wanted to play in Houston, though as with a sign-and-trade, the Sixers would have to sign off.

Additionally, Butler would presumably be reluctant to give up a longer-term, maximum-salary deal this summer unless he has assurances that such a deal would be waiting for him from the Rockets in 2020. That’s essentially what happened with Paul in 2017 — his payday was delayed until 2018, but there was never any doubt Houston would give it to him.

Of course, owner Tilman Fertitta has reportedly complained since day one about the team’s long-term investment in CP3, so it’s not clear if the club would be willing to make a similar wink-and-nod commitment to Butler.

The idea of the Rockets acquiring Butler still looks like a long shot at this point, but Morey has creatively completed deals in the past, and will certainly explore every avenue he can to do so again this time around.

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13 thoughts on “Rockets Expected To Pursue Jimmy Butler

  1. hoosierhysteria

    Tilmann better learn to keep his mouth shut. He ain’t Steinbrenner….no rings…no street cred. Overpaying is a way of life in the NBA. Butler would be a good addition but he stays with 6ers who will give him max.

  2. Gary

    I don’t see this happening. If Butler comes over on his 19 million dollar deal with the promise of a Max later, in listening to the owner talk, he’s not comfortable giving out that kind of money by already complaining about Chris Paul’s contract.

    Butler will probably choose to get paid with his destination a secondary concern.

  3. Z-A

    Sign & Trade?? Lol so let’s start with the 4 1st round picks they were going to give the Wolves.

    It’s CP3 + 4 1st round picks + Swap Rights. No one else can be added to the deal, at least I don’t think they can. Sixers can only trade Jimmy’s Max and Simmons non-guaranteed deal – would be a 7.9M difference with PJ Tucker added.

    Jimmy was kind of solving the combo guard issue that Fultz failed to solve. CP3 can defend his position, but you lose the multi-position defense of Butler (1-3 and some 4s). So you actually get a bit worse.

    • Z-A

      Also 4 yrs older, more injury prone, and for all the Jimmy Drama, CP3 has been at the center of 2 super-team blow-ups now.

  4. Senioreditor

    Why insert yourself into an unhealthy situation when you can choose to play in any location?

  5. victorg

    first with this locker room I don’t think jimmy would be a good addition he would end up just another malcontent. second I don’t think philly wants Gordon and tucker. and third I don’t think jimmy will wait for his next mega contract. so yeah this is very similar to when morey would chase LeBron/Carmelo/Howard ….

  6. Ezpkns34

    Ignoring chemistry & intangibles, this sounds like an awful idea purely based off X’s & O’s. A team built around jacking up as many 3’s as possible having a mediocre shooter as their second player is just asking for problems

  7. DynamiteAdams

    I feel like the Rockets just throw random rumours like this when they’re bored. They have a wish list with no logical way of actually getting these players. Good on Morey for trying I guess but this team is bottoming out.

  8. Archie M.

    Nah, Butler won’t be a good fit for the Rockets. Why? Butler EXPECTS defensive intensity & effort from his teammates. Because of that, Butler might end up choking James Harden’s beard if he goes to Houston. So NO WAY he’s going to the Rockets. NEXT!

  9. brewpackbuckbadg

    If Jimmy opts out, how much room do the 6ers have? Could they just take on C3p with a little of creativity? Then would it be possible for the Rockets to sign Jimmy in place of C3p. Just wondering…

  10. Butler isn’t likely to opt in, and that trick isn’t going to work again. Fertitta has to understand that telling his fellow owners that he’s upset about “having to” sign a contract, tells them there was an arrangement made a year earlier. Harden recruiting CP3 is ok (apparently), but he Rox agreeing a year in advance to max him (to make up for the max deal he was leaving on the table) is not ok.

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