Houston Rockets Reportedly Expected to “Aggressively” Pursue Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler during an NBA All-Star Game in 2017. Photo by Stephen Lew/CSM/REX/Shutterstock

Houston Rockets made a strong push for Jimmy Butler last season only to see their trade package revolving around four first-round picks rejected by Minnesota Timberwolves. Butler, who will be a free agent this summer, ended up with Philadelphia 76ers, but that didn’t stop Rockets from plotting a way to bring him to Houston.

According to Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith, Rockets intend to “aggressively” pursue Butler this summer as they see him as an ideal fit for their team.

The issue here, however, is that Houston can’t sign Butler outright. The 29-year-old All-Star publicly said that he will demand a max contract, something that Rockets don’t have cap space for. This means that any potential deal between the two sides would include sign-and-trade.

One way that Jimmy Butler can end up with the Rockets is if he signs a max contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, and then gets traded to Houston. He could also take his $19 million player option in his current deal, and then get traded. Butler would then probably sign with the Rockets in 2020 in a similar arrangement in which the team landed Chris Paul.

While it remains to be seen how bad Butler wants to play in Houston, the reality is that Rockets will face strong competition for his services. He is one of the marquee free agents this summer with 76ers, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets being among teams that will offer him a contract this summer.

Butler played 65 games combined for Timberwolves and 76ers in this past season, averaging 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game.