Report: Rockets to pursue a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler

With the Western Conference wide open thanks to major injuries to the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets have plans for a big move this offseason. They just need to convince another team to let them do it first.

The Rockets are planning to recruit Philadelphia 76ers star Jimmy Butler in free agency, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. In order to land Butler, the team will need to acquire Butler through a sign-and-trade with the Philadelphia 76ers due to its lack of cap space.

The Rockets had already been reported to be interested in Butler, and now we’re seeing how a deal could possibly take form.

How the Rockets could land Jimmy Butler

To pull the move off, the Rockets will need to do two things. First, they need to convince Butler that Houston would be his best destination in free agency after an eventful year for the All-Star forward.

Second and more importantly, the Rockets will need to convince the Sixers that they have no shot at re-signing Butler after giving up Robert Covington and Dario Saric for him just months ago.

The Sixers reportedly plan to be aggressive in their attempts to re-sign Butler in free agency, and could offer him a five-year, $190 million deal when free agency begins Sunday night. A four-year, $146.5 million deal would also be possible.

Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, and Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler stare at the ball during the first half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Monday, April 23, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
James Harden and Jimmy Butler would be quite a pairing. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

If the Sixers find that Butler doesn’t want to re-sign with them, then the team could possibly negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets. Per Wojnarowski, the Rockets would need to include at least two of these three to make the deal’s financials work: Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker.

Even if Butler walks away from the Sixers, the team would still have its hands full in free agency trying to re-sign Tobias Harris and JJ Redick. Wojnarowski also reports the Sixers could simply turn down a Butler sign-and-trade for payroll flexibility if the team is able to keep its other free agents.

Rockets have pursued Jimmy Butler before

This isn’t the first time the Rockets have geared up to pursue Butler. The team was in the thick of discussions last season to trade for the disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star and reportedly offered literally ever first-round draft pick they could for him.

It’s not hard to see why the Rockets would want Butler. Dropping him in the lineup would give the Rockets an elite perimeter defense duo with Chris Paul, and another top offensive option behind James Harden. Of course, adding a player who reportedly derailed his own team’s practices last season to a locker room already seeing a fair amount of conflict could be risky.

Still, with the Warriors in danger next season of being without Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, this might be the best chance the Rockets get to break through to the NBA Finals, never mind the luxury tax bill.

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