Heat Rumors: NBA executives ‘buzzing’ about Jimmy Butler trade ‘for months’

Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks
Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks / Paras Griffin/GettyImages

The offseason is officially underway, with the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder kicking things off on Thursday with the first trade of the summer.

Maybe Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey doesn’t spark the fireworks so many are anticipating this June and July but, according to The Ringer’s Howard Beck, executives around the league anticipate a blockbuster and he predicts that Jimmy Butler has played his last game for the Miami Heat.

Rival executives have been anticipating that Jimmy Butler could get traded for months because of an impasse with the Miami Heat over a new contract.

“Jimmy Butler will be traded,” Beck predicted. “Rival executives have been buzzing about it for months, for all the obvious reasons.”

Beck goes on…

"Butler is about to turn 35 (with a lot of hard miles and a lot of injuries), with one year left on his Heat contract, and is reportedly seeking a two-year, $113 million extension. If the Heat grant it, they’ll have little to no flexibility to add another star. And they absolutely need one.

"Credit Butler for powering Miami to two Finals in five seasons. But a team built around Butler and Bam Adebayo isn’t enough to challenge the Celtics, Bucks, or Sixers in the East. Pat Riley is known for moving off his high-priced players before they fall off a cliff. And Butler at this stage would be much more valuable as a second or third option on a contender than as the top dog in Miami. This feels like the right time for a pivot."

As Beck points out, the Heat and Butler are at a crossroads. Butler wants to get paid like a superstar, but he wasn’t the star the Heat needed him to be last year. He played only 60 games, ranked 46th in scoring and missed the playoffs with an MCL injury.

According to the Miami Herald, Butler is seeking a max contract extension for two years, $113 million, from the Heat or any team willing to make that commitment. 

In June, Riley voiced his concerns about negotiating a new contract with Butler, who will turn 35 this summer and has never played more than 64 regular-season games since joining the Heat in 2019. 

"That's a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources,” Riley said, “unless you have somebody who's going to be there and available every single night.”

Riley and the Heat have balked at the financial demands of past-their-prime stars before. 

Look no further than Dwyane Wade, who left for the Chicago Bulls in 2016 because of a contract dispute. Wade was 34 and coming off a season in which he played 74 games when he split. Butler is 34 now, and played 14 fewer games than Wade did in his last season (before returning to the Heat nearly two years later).

There are reports that teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors are monitoring Butler’s situation in Miami, and could pounce if the Heat make Butler available for trade. 

Butler and the Heat can officially begin negotiations on a new deal on July 7, but Butler and Riley have already made their stance publicly. How much is there to negotiate? Will Beck and rival executives be right?