Once free agency starts on June 6, the Houston Rockets are expected to pursue a sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers for forward Jimmy Butler.
Of course, the Rockets are already $17 million over the salary cap and there’s no way they can clear enough space to sign Butler outright. Instead, the Rockets will try to persuade Butler and the Sixers into a sign-and-trade deal, similar to the deal between the Rockets and Clippers for Chris Paul two years ago.
Houston is at a bit of a disadvantage here. The Sixers can offer Butler a five-year, $190 million contract to remain in Philly. If Butler wanted to pursue a sign-and-trade to come to Houston, he could only sign a deal worth $140 million over four years.
Butler will turn 30 in September, so if this is his last shot at a max deal, he may prioritize securing the biggest contract possible before anything else. Conversely, he is also running out of time to win a championship while still in his prime, so that could motivate him to choose the Rockets this summer, especially since the Warriors will likely be without Kevin Durant next season and without Klay Thompson for the majority of next year.
In order to make a trade for Butler, the Rockets would likely have to give up at least two of Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker or Eric Gordon in order to make the salaries match, according to Woj. This isn’t at all surprising, as a report two weeks ago indicated that Houston was already operating under the assumption that at least one of Capela, Gordon or Tucker would be dealt this summer.
In an interview last week, Rockets GM Daryl Morey said Houston would keep Chris Paul and that the team was interested in adding a third star. Considering Houston’s limited cap space and Butler’s roots in Tomball, Texas, completing a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler may be the best shot the Rockets have at another star.