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Did the Heat fail by offering Jimmy Butler a $184 million max contract?

Former Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers small forward Jimmy Butler has finally found his long-term NBA home with the Miami Heat. According to multiple reports from throughout the day on Monday, not only is Butler expected to sign a four-year contract extension with the Heat, but Miami will reportedly be ponying up the maximum value of $184 million as a result.

The 31-year-old swingman originally made his way down to Miami back in 2019 by way of yet another maximum contract, though this time it was via a sign-and-trade with the aforementioned 76ers. As a result of Butler heading from the “City of Brotherly Love” to South Beach, the 76ers received veteran shooting guard Josh Richardson in the same deal. It is also worth noting that Butler is currently in line to rake in $36 million this upcoming season, though he cannot formally sign his new contract extension with the Heat until the league officially opens its 2021-22 campaign on August 6th.

However, the questions remains…is this really a good idea? While many may argue that it is certainly not a good idea for the Heat to dish out nearly $185 million to retain Butler, but the veteran small forward has shown time and time again that he brings quite a bit of value to the table in a variety of different ways.

On the court, Butler notably averaged 21.5 points per game this past season in addition to registering single-season career-high averages of 7.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds per outing as well. Butler also produced a league-best 2.1 steals in 33.6 minutes per game in 2020-21. After leading the Heat to an appearance in the 2019-20 NBA Finals in his first go-round in Miami, Butler and the defending Eastern Conference Champions promptly lost to this year’s eventual NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round of the postseason.

All in all, Butler has certainly done his part on the hardwood since heading down to Miami as a member of the Heat.

The presence of Butler provides more than just individual numbers and statistical production as well, though. A proven leader and a team player, Butler has become quite popular with the Heat, an organization often recognized for its immense success in a relatively short period of time. For example, thanks to Butler joining the Heat, Miami is once again a premiere designation for free agents.

Butler is currently attracting other superstar-caliber player like longtime Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, another noted veteran leader with championship pedigree and extensive playoff experience. Lowry was dealt to the Heat by way of a sign-and-trade of his own earlier in the day on Monday and has inked a three-year, $90 million contract with Miami in the process. Adding to what the Heat are building, up-and-coming sharpshooter Duncan Robinson has elected to remain with the Eastern Conference franchise while signing a new five-year deal on Monday.

“Lowry’s long been intrigued with joining Heat star Jimmy Butler and the Miami organization, and now Miami’s maneuvered to have two key elements of a possible sign-and-trade package – Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa — to offer Raptors once talks can ensue at 6 PM, per sources,” writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

In addition to Butler’s ability to keep the Heat relevant from a basketball perspective, the longtime NBA swingman is also one of the more likable players in the league today. When the NBA was forced to make its way to Orlando during the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Butler quickly became one of the more popular players in the “NBA Bubble.” Obviously it was a bit easier for Butler to continue to make a name for himself on the floor with the Heat reaching the NBA Finals against superstar forward and the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers, but the Heat small forward also created numerous headlines with his jokes and uber popular coffee shop inside the “NBA Bubble.”

As marketable as it gets, having Butler remain with the Heat is absolutely the correct decision for a franchise that wants to remain in the mix both in the Eastern Conference standings and on the international stage. Jimmy Butler has been nothing but positive and beneficial for the Heat ever since he stepped foot in Miami and there is no reason to not reward him for his efforts thus far.

Of course, the Heat will now be paying Jimmy Butler to keep producing at a high level while such an investment already seems to be paying dividends with Lowry heading south of the border and Robinson choosing to stay in place for the next handful of years.

Ben Simmons, Sixers


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