Woj: Jimmy Butler, 76ers Expected to Reach Long-Term Contract in Summer of 2019

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 10, 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler plays against the Indiana Pacers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers and Jimmy Butler "fully expect" to agree to a long-term contract extension after the 2018-19 NBA season, ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday.

Wojnarowski and colleague Zach Lowe reported the Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to trade Butler and Justin Patton to the Sixers in return for Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a second-round pick.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the Wolves will also receive Jerryd Bayless.

Lowe weighed the benefits and possible pitfalls of the trade:

Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA

A max for Butler would raise obvious questions about Fultz's long-term place in Philly, though there are lots of other Fultz questions to answer first. Philly will watch very carefully to see how all the personalities mesh.

Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA

Time will tell if Jimmy is the right specific target, and on how his next contract ages, but in theory, you cash in Saric and Covington for a player at Butler's level. We'll see how the shooting/chemistry/fit questions develop. Top of the East is a whole lot of fun.

Zach Lowe @ZachLowe_NBA

Kawhi and PG-13 are much cleaner fits with the Sixers than Jimmy is, but neither appears to have been available to Philly at this price or (in PG's case) in free agency last summer. You either wait another year for a better fit, or pay this price for Jimmy. Interesting choices.

The Sixers can get ahead of any questions regarding Butler's future this summer, and Butler would have the kind of commitment he sought from the Timberwolves.

The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported in September that Butler had hoped to receive an agreement on a max extension with Minnesota, "one that would have raised his salary for 2018-19 to $30 million and added another four years and $145 million on to that."

The Timberwolves offered a four-year, $110 million deal, which was the most they could tender at the time.

Butler's situation in Philadelphia would be similar to that of Chris Paul. Paul opted in to the final year of his contract to facilitate his trade to the Houston Rockets ahead of the 2017-18 season and then signed a four-year, $159.7 million extension this offseason.

Wojnarowski noted the Sixers will not be able to finalize a new deal with Butler during the season and posited Butler could leave in free agency, though things would probably have to go sideways for that to happen.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Sixers and Butler aren't allowed to enter into a negotiation or a agree on an extension yet, but barring physical issues or Butler failing to fit into the Embiid-Simmons dynamic both sides are optimistic on a long-term future. Sixers would be paying a steep price for a rental. https://t.co/eJv11Ynfsc

Even if Butler doesn't mesh with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Philadelphia would surely be opposed to losing Butler after having already sacrificed roster depth by sending Covington and Saric to Minnesota. If Butler departs, the Sixers would be in a worse position than before the trade.

Of course, re-signing Butler would carry risks as well. He struggled with the Timberwolves duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and he's joining another team built on a pair of young stars.

As good as Butler is, Simmons and Embiid are the Sixers' foundation, and the team can't jeopardize their long-term development by sticking with Butler if the formula isn't working.

This move has the potential to bring an NBA title to Philadelphia, or it could undo years of preparation to get the franchise to this point.