NBA Rumors: 76ers 'Still Hope' to Re-Sign Jimmy Butler in Free Agency

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers' Jimmy Butler in action during an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers swingman Jimmy Butler has a player option on his contract for the 2019-20 campaign, but that reportedly won't stop his current team from attempting to keep him in the fold.

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com, the 76ers "still hope to re-sign him this summer" after acquiring Butler via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves in November.

Philadelphia wants to keep Butler long term even after Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported he "aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on his role in the offense, complicating an already tenuous chemistry."

It was particularly notable since the four-time All-Star's time with the Timberwolves ended in tumultuous fashion and included an infamous practice that saw him yell at members of the front office and teammates.

However, Brown dismissed the notion it was hostile, per a tweet by Serena Winters of NBC Sports Philadelphia: "I never felt like there was any, what was the word? aggressive? It was two people talking...It doesn't mean that something that is challenging is disrespectful...I like the dialogue."

Lowe provided more context to the incident, noting Butler's objections only came during a film study that saw Brown ask if anyone wanted to weigh in. What's more, an assistant coach encouraged T.J. McConnell to discuss his thoughts, and Butler talked about the guard's role as well as his own.

There are some concerns with the 76ers, which Lowe touches on in his column.

Ben Simmons' poor shooting ability limits what the team can do on offense. Butler has the potential to be a dominant scorer when attacking the rim but is often playing off the ball with Simmons handling it. Depth concerns are a significant issue after trading Robert Covington and Dario Saric to get Butler—especially with Markelle Fultz sitting out.

There is also the balance of having three legitimate stars on the roster in Simmons, Butler and Joel Embiid.

"I don't enjoy feeling like a waiter—like I'm serving each of them food," Brown said, per Lowe. "Although at times you have to be. Joel needs a touch. Ben needs to be posted. Jimmy needs a play. You hope the offense will dictate who gets shots, but it has been challenging."

Still, Philadelphia is 16-7 when Butler plays and occupies the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. It would enjoy home-court advantage in the first round if the season ended today and still has that trio of players to take over games in crunch time.

The team wants to see if it can develop into a long-term contender with its new Big Three, and it will apparently make every effort to re-sign Butler this coming offseason.

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