The grumblings of Jimmy Butler joining James Harden down in Houston are getting louder.
A lot of chips would have to fall into place for the Rockets to acquire the forward, but one minor step is the two players establishing a relationship.
Now, we come to find out that Harden and Butler — who is from the Houston area — have been “talking” this offseason, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
Smith went on a rant about Harden and Butler talking to one another during his radio show on Monday afternoon. However, he noted that Butler can’t join the Rockets team with Mike D’Antoni as head coach running the offense through Harden.
“And then I find out Jimmy Butler and James Harden have been talking a few times this offseason. Jimmy Butler is down from those parts. Even though Philadelphia would love to keep him, and to me it would be foolish to leave Philadelphia. And to me, Jimmy Butler in Houston is a disaster waiting to happen as long as D’Antoni’s the coach. Because when D’Antoni’s the coach, everything’s going to go through James Harden. CP3 and there are going to stand around and watch. And Jimmy Butler ain’t made from that cloth.
That’s James Harden’s team.
And I don’t believe for one second that Jimmy Butler would work in Houston with D’Antoni as the coach. Now if another coach came in there and wanted James Harden to modify his approach to things, and James Harden capitulated, and as a result, you had a new system in place, I’m down with that. But Jimmy Butler and Mike D’Antoni can’t exist on the same team with James Harden. That can’t happen. One or the other. Not both! You’ll win games. You’ll get to the postseason. But are you going to win a championship? Hell no. Not with D’Antoni and Jimmy Butler and James Harden.”
Of course, the Rockets are kind of stuck when it comes to paying for Butler.
The 29-year-old is set to opt out of his $19.8 million player option with the 76ers and is now an unrestricted free agent.
The four-time All-Star averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 34.7 percent from beyond the arc and 85.5 percent from the free-throw line. The elite two-way wing wants to sign a max contract this offseason.
So, if Butler does want to join the Rockets, he may not get all that money. Houston has no 2019 draft picks to offer up to either Philadelphia or whatever team Butler ends up on, nor does the team have any cap space.
But, Houston is reportedly making everyone on the team — and that includes point guard Chris Paul, center Clint Capela and shooting guard Eric Gordon — available in trade talks this offseason.
How strongly do you want the Rockets to go after Butler, and do you think he could work alongside Harden playing for D’Antoni?