Though Miami Heat target Jimmy Butler wants a maximum five-year, $190 million contract extension from the team that acquires him, ABC/ESPN lead analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy offered a cautionary warning on Monday.
Under terms of that contract, Butler would be paid $40 million in Year 4 of the deal and $43 million in Year 5, when he’s 34.
Would a team be comfortable paying him that much at that age?
“That’s the $100,000 question,” Jackson said in a conference call previewing ABC/ESPN’s coverage of the season. “It’s not Jimmy Butler today and what he’s worth. It’s if you give him that extension at 34 years old, making that kind of money, it can really handcuff your franchise.
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“Those are the tough decisions. You boil it down to whether the trade is worth it or not. He’s certainly a heck of a basketball player and he will help them today. That makes it tough. If I am a general manager, I would try to meet somewhere halfway where I’m not paying that kind of money when he’s 34.”
Meanwhile, Van Gundy said he’s not sure a team would pay Butler that much, whether he wants it or not.
“I am not at all convinced that every team, like Miami, that they would do that,” Van Gundy said. “I am not convinced. People would say Houston did it for Chris Paul. But I think Houston is and was closer to a championship than Miami and secondarily, Chris Paul is going to go down as one of the all-time greats. I am not convinced that the team that ultimately trades for Jimmy Butler will feel necessary to give him five years. I really do think there will be negotiations. The only team committed to paying him five years will be the team that has him.”
A team that acquires Butler would also get his Bird Rights, meaning it could exceed the cap to give him a maximum deal with a fifth year. Other teams could give him only four years.
Per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski, Wolves owner Glen Taylor and Butler “came to an agreement” Sunday that “Taylor will continue to work diligently to find a trade as soon as possible. Until that happens, Butler will be a good teammate and play as hard as he always does.”
Heat trade talks with Minnesota ended a week ago after the Wolves reportedly asked for a second first-round pick in addition to an offer of Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters and a first-round pick.
Miami balked, but it’s possible talks could resume.
Butler is due to make $19.9 million this season and is eligible for unrestricted free agency nest summer.
Meanwhile, Van Gundy told me of the Heat: “I put them as definitely a playoff team. If they traded for someone as talented as Butler is, then I would put them in that next group. Miami has stuff you can count on: depth, great defense, move the ball. They just aren’t as talented as the teams you mentioned in that other tier [Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto]. Could they get there? Yeah. I would feel better about their chances if they made an impactful trade.
“You have to know the specifics of the trade to say I would or wouldn’t do a specific thing, but the idea to trade for Jimmy Butler, I like that idea for Miami.”