76ers' Jimmy Butler expected to decline player option, report says

It appears like Jimmy Butler could be preparing to test the free agency waters.

The 76ers guard is expected to decline the player option in his deal with Philadelphia, according to a report from Yahoo Sports, which cites unidentified league sources. Butler has until June 29th to opt out of the $19.8 million he’s set to receive in the final year of his five-year contract he signed in 2015 as a member of the Bulls.

Butler, 29, would easily become a highly coveted piece should he enter the market as an unrestricted free agent. The four-time All-Star is an elite, two-way wing who averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the 76ers in 2018-19 — after forcing his way out of Minnesota last November.

He elevated his play in the postseason and averaged 19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists en route to Philadelphia’s Eastern Conference semifinals appearance. But the 76ers ultimately lost to the Raptors in seven games. Butler’s leadership and composure in the clutch was essential to their playoff push, though.

Philadelphia was expecting Butler to decline as he’s made it clear he’d like to pursue as much money as he can.

“Knock on wood, I will get a max contract no matter where I go,” Butler stated at his exit interview last month. “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.”

The Lakers are reportedly interested in acquiring Butler to pair with superstar LeBron James. But other teams like the Nets and Knicks have also been mentioned in conversations regarding his next stop.