Jimmy Butler to Rockets? Latest on Sixers' free agent

Eliot Shorr-Parks
June 26, 2019 - 3:28 pm

The Houston Rockets obviously feel they have a very good shot of luring Sixers free agent Jimmy Butler away from Philadelphia — so much so they are already trying to trade players to make it happen. 

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According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are actively trying to trade Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker to teams that have salary cap space, hoping to land a first-round pick (or picks) to help them complete a sign-and-trade with the Sixers. You have to imagine that if the Rockets are willing to trade players that are key to their roster they are pretty confident in what they are hearing about Butler's desire to come to Houston.  

This report comes one day after ESPN reported the Rockets plan to try to convince Butler to force a sign-and-trade from the Sixers to the Rockets. 

Pulling it off won't be easy for the Rockets, as the Sixers are reportedly going to try to convince Butler to stay in Philadelphia, and could offer him a five-year, $190 million deal. The Rockets can’t offer Butler more than four-years. 

More details on the Rockets’ plan, per Wojnarowski:

The Rockets don't have the salary-cap space to sign Butler, so they'd need the threat of the Sixers losing him for nothing to a team with the available room to motivate Philadelphia into a trade. The Rockets also would potentially need to make this a multiteam deal to satisfy the rules of base year compensation that would cover Butler's outgoing salary....Butler would be eligible to sign a four-year, $140 million contract on the way to the Rockets, but Houston likely would need to include two of these players -- center Clint Capela, guard Eric Gordon and power forward P.J. Tucker -- to make the financial deal work, sources said.

The Sixers losing out on Butler would sting, but if Butler is going to leave, landing a package of either picks or players would be the best possible outcome. 

A potential package of Capela and Gordon in exchange for Butler would certainly soften the blow. The duo would fill two needs for the Sixers. Gordon shot 38% from three last season on nearly eight attempts per game, and would fill the team's need for outside shooting in a major way. Capela, although he would certainly be overpaid to be a backup, would be the perfect fit as a backup to Joel Embiid and would allow the Sixers to rest Embiid more than they did last season. Backup center was arguably the biggest weakness on the Sixers last season and filling that need with Capela would be a major improvement for the Sixers. 

Financially, committing to Gordon and Capela over Butler might make some sense as well. Gordon has two years remaining on his contract for a total of $28 million. Butler would make more than that next season alone. Capela has four years remaining on his deal, but his salary never tops $19 million, and is just $15 million next season. Butler might be a better player than either individually, but the idea of paying Capela $19 million in four seasons feels like a lot less of a risk than paying Butler over $35 million in four seasons. 

Landing draft picks for Butler might help this team in the future, depending on how high they are, but it is hard to imagine any team will be willing to trade a pick of actual value for any of those three players. Plus, with the draft already over, none of the picks acquired will be helping the Sixers next season. 

You can follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!