Miami Heat face 'spicy' decision regarding Jimmy Butler's future this summer

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler is eligible to sign an extension this offseason, and negotiations could be difficult, according to one NBA insider.
Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

No matter how the Miami Heat’s first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics ends, the organization could face a tough decision regarding Jimmy Butler’s future in Miami with one NBA insider saying negotiations “could get spicy.”

Butler, who will be 35 when next season begins, is eligible to sign a maximum extension this summer. He averaged 20.8 points on 50% shooting, 5.3 rebounds and 5 assists in 60 games this season but sprained his MCL during Miami’s play-in game against the Philadelphia 76ers and will miss several weeks, including this first-round playoff series.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania recently reported that Butler’s MCL injury is considered “severe” and that he is facing “one month, could be two months of rehab.”

Although Butler is still one of the league’s best players, he did show signs of aging this season, including a decline in free-throw attempts, field goal percentage at the rim and dunks.

All of this adds up to what could be a tense negotiation between Butler and the Heat.

“He’s getting toward his mid-30s. He’s extension-eligible in the offseason. He has a player option for 25-26,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast this week. “This is one of the last teams in the league that could have afforded a lost playoff opportunity because the timeline on the Butler Heat is ticking to an end and those extension talks which can come this summer. Those could get spicy.”

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Butler will look “for an extension soon enough, in essence asking for something even beyond Jaylen Brown money.” Brown signed a five-year supermax contract extension worth $304 million before this season.

But paying Butler upwards of $60 million annually seems inconceivable for a player whose best basketball is behind him, especially when considering that the Heat already have one of the league’s most expensive payrolls.

Meanwhile, Butler’s representation can fairly assert that Butler captained what is arguably the second-greatest era in Heat history, behind only the four-year run of the Big Three (2010-2014). In five seasons, Butler has led the Heat to two NBA Finals and three Eastern Conference finals.

Both sides would have a point.

Making matters more complicated is that, for Butler to sign an extension, he would have to decline his $52.4 million player option in 2025-26. How much of a paycut will he be willing to take – if at all – for what will be his age 36 season in order to add more years to his current deal?

If Butler doesn’t accept a significant paycut, would he be comfortable simply playing out the deal and revisiting an extension next summer, when he’s a year older? Or simply becoming a free agent in 2027, when he’ll be 37?

Butler has said he wants to retire as a member of the Heat and the organization has made its loyalties to Butler known, but money can change relationships. In other words, yeah, things could get “spicy.”