NBA insider suspects 76ers are using Jimmy Butler to create leverage over Paul George

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers reportedly are trying to create leverage in the free agent market this offseason with their potential interest in Miami Heat superstar Jimmy Butler.

The Sixers, who could pursue Los Angeles Clippers wing Paul George in the offseason, reportedly are trying to get him to take less than a max contract to join the franchise.

Butler, who is under contract with Miami for the 2024-25 season, has recently been connected to the Sixers.

Heat president Pat Riley was noncommittal about offering the six-time All-Star a contract extension this coming offseason.

“I mean, if he requests, we can either accept or we can say we’re going to think about it,” Riley said when asked what the Heat will do if Butler requests the extension this offseason. “But we have not made a decision on it. I think you make too much out of this. He still has two years left on his contract, theoretically. He’s got a player option. But that’s something that we have to give some real thought to based on a lot of factors. … That’s a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources unless you’re somebody who’s really going to be there, available every single night. That’s the truth.”

Butler has a player option that is worth north of $50 million for the 2025-26 season. Prior to joining the Heat ahead of the 2019-20 season, Butler spent the end of the 2018-19 campaign with the Sixers after he was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Philly came up just short of an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, losing to the Toronto Raptors on a last-second shot by Kawhi Leonard.

George has a player option on his current contract for the 2024-25 season, but he could decline it and become a free agent. The Clippers reportedly have made multiple contract offers to George that are below the max, but he will not accept them.

It would be interesting if George took less than the max to leave Los Angeles, but the Sixers appear to be keeping their options open with their reported interest in Butler.

However, for Philly’s plan to work, Miami would actually have to be willing to deal Butler. Riley made it clear on Monday that the team does not want to trade the star forward.

After losing in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Knicks this season, the Sixers are clearly looking to improve their roster around stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.

Philly has not made an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since the 2000-01 season when it lost in the NBA Finals.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.