Could Jimmy Butler sign with the Nets when free agency begins this offseason?
According to the New York Post, which cited unidentified league sources, Brooklyn has “a real shot at landing” the forward and prying him away from the 76ers. The Nets have been connected to speculation around pursuing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and the report notes the Nets finally have enough cash to get looks from some of the league’s top free agents.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson expressed optimism about the future of his program earlier this week, reiterating Brooklyn has “great options” heading into free agency.
“We have a great young core that we have that are coming back,” Atkinson told ESPN on Thursday (via the Post). “And then obviously Sean has done a fantastic job creating cap space. We have our own picks this year, which I’m so psyched.
“I’m so psyched to be here watching these young guys play. I always say I’m a player-advocate; I just want all of them. But it’s a real fantastic opportunity. We’re going to have options. A, I think we all know what A is. There’s some great players out there. But we also feel comfortable with B, C and D that if it doesn’t go our way in free agency.”
Butler addressed his impending free agency earlier this week, indicating he’s hoping to join a franchise that wants to win.
“Hopefully I’ll get a max contract anywhere I choose to go,” Butler told reporters (via NBC Sports Philadelphia). “You always want to be able to win, I think that’s key for sure. You’re looking at coaches, you’re looking at the city. There’s a lot that goes into it.
“For me, as long as I got my people with me, they’re happy, they’re smiling and we’re waking up knowing we’re getting to work in an environment where we’re having fun … but I’m a long way away from that,” Butler said. “I’m not too focused on that right now.”
The 76ers acquired Butler from the Timberwolves in mid-November in exchange for a package centered around Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Butler averaged 18.2 points in 55 regular-season appearances for Philadelphia. He averaged 19.4 points per game during the playoffs before the 76ers were eliminated by the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals.