Can the Miami Heat snag Jimmy Butler this summer?

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18: Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are seen at Stance Spades Tournament during NBA All-Star Weekend on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bobby Metelus/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 18: Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are seen at Stance Spades Tournament during NBA All-Star Weekend on February 18, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bobby Metelus/Getty Images) /

Can the Miami Heat entice Jimmy Butler to visit South Beach?

If NBA Twitter was ever at its saltiest, it’s now.

Two days after the embargo was lifted on teams from talking to free agents, the 2019 NBA champions were likely decided. Four-time NBA All-Star and habitual temper tantrum thrower DeMarcus Cousins joined the Golden State Warriors, subtly continuing Kevin Durant’s narrative of taking the “hardest road”.

The move stood as the biggest free agency surprise to date.

More than LeBron James signing a four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers or Paul George’s equally long deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. James was expected to jump ship, not giving Cleveland so much as a meeting once July 1 rolled around.

But George called the most lopsided audible in recent history, saddling Lakers President Magic Johnson with a $500,000 tampering bill and some well wishes, choosing his kindred bond with Russell Westbrook over his hometown team.

Cousins’ choice however makes both James and George’s decisions inconsequential.

The Warriors deposed the NBA-best Houston Rockets this season and have upgraded JaVale McGee and his rat tail for a certified All-NBA talent.

His $5 million, one-year deal locks the NBA’s focus to the Bay Area for at least another year, leaving the Eastern Conference yearning for relevance. But while much of the league’s best talent has coagulated West of the Mississippi River, that might be the best thing for the Miami Heat.

The Miami Heat have been light on roster additions thus far into the summer. Unable to afford to compete in the free agent sweepstakes, the Heat are biding their time until they are better situated to make a competitive move.

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Their silent treatment plan may have had a wrench lodged in it however, with current Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler daydreaming about finding a squad with more purpose than his lackadaisical Timberwolves.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Butler is “fed up” with his nonchalant teammates, finding fault in Minnesota’s ill-prepared and mismanaged bunch.

As a graduate of the Chicago Bulls’ School of Tanking, Butler can identify an out-of-touch team from miles away. His final seasons in Chicago were bludgeoned by the ineptitude of Bulls general manager and vice president Gar Forman and John Paxson respectively.

A year removed from sharing the court in Chicago, Butler’s interest in a purpose driven team could land him back in the Eastern Conference with Dwyane Wade as his confidant. The pair of Marquette alumnae have a jovial off-court history, having shared a part of vacation together in Paris.

Adding to the potential for a reunion, Wade has previously made clear that Miami will be his final NBA resting place. If Butler is indeed serious playing with Wade, Miami is (hopefully, don’t leave again, Wade) the only option.

In a weakened East, a healthy Butler instantly raises Miami’s profile.

Assuming he opts into his 2019 player option, Miami could get at least a season of Butler in exchange for Tyler Johnson at $19 million flat out, or a combination of pieces.

Unfortunately, with Wade yet to announce his retirement plans, Miami would be dealing with another ticking time bomb with Butler’s arrival. If Wade could entice Butler to stay, it’s likely only guaranteed until he retires, unless Miami can make Butler swoon in free agency.

A short-term deal might not be terrible though, especially if Miami could retain most of its core players. Getting Butler’s expiring deal would free up cap space for 2019, leaving Miami with more room than they can currently anticipate with this salary-loaded roster.

The Heat’s roster is lined with proponents of the organization’s patented culture. A one-year rental of Butler generally runs counter to said culture, leaving little in the way of assurance other than cap space in 2019.

Still, Butler has reportedly also expressed interest in joining with Kyrie Irving, which, if on the Boston Celtics, effectively locks the rest of the East out of the NBA Finals for the foreseeable future.

Wade’s leverage with Butler might be just the power play Miami needs to keep at least half of the NBA a truly competitive game.

Next: Miami Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. is ready for his transition

The league can change overnight, but fetching a guaranteed star at the very least builds Miami’s stock moving forward.