While the odds appear to be stacked against them, the Rockets are “extremely confident” in their ability to acquire Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade deal, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in his preview of Houston’s free agency. According to Iko, team sources not only believe that the Rockets have a good shot at Butler, but also feel as if they’re in the lead for him.
In order for the Rockets to sign-and-trade for Butler, the Sixers would have to be on board, which is a big “if.” But Sam Amick of The Athletic hears from a source that Philadelphia would likely be open to cooperating if necessary, since the team has a “strong desire” to avoid losing Butler for nothing.
As ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst pointed out on a recent podcast, in order for the Sixers to believe that losing Butler for nothing is a real possibility, the swingman would likely need to have a potential alternate landing spot besides Houston. That alternate landing spot could be Los Angeles, as Amick also reports that the possibility of Butler and Kawhi Leonard both joining the Clippers is a scenario that’s viewed by sources as “increasingly possible.”
The Clippers would have to move Danilo Gallinari‘s salary to clear space for a second max player, but there are strong indications that Leonard would welcome Butler as a running mate, according to Amick. That echoes a Wednesday report from Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
As we wait to see what Butler’s future holds, here are some more Rockets-related notes and rumors:
- The Rockets are targeting mid-level players whom teams might not be able to pay, according to Iko. Houston also hopes that the opportunity to compete for a title might convince certain free agents to take a little less than they might be able to earn elsewhere. The team refers to these as “contender contracts” and points to P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute as past examples, says Iko.
- Team sources tell Iko that the Rockets have a list of about 30-to-50 potential targets. GM Daryl Morey has spoken to James Harden and Chris Paul via FaceTime about many of those players, Iko adds.
- It’s 50/50 that Austin Rivers will return to Houston, according to Iko, who says team sources are resigned to the fact that it will be difficult to bring back Rivers and Kenneth Faried.
- Trevor Ariza, who previously played for the Rockets, and Houston native DeAndre Jordan are potential targets for the club, Iko writes. According to Iko, there’s still “love” for Ariza within the Rockets’ organization, and team sources believe Jordan would be interested in playing for his hometown team — especially if Clint Capela gets dealt.