Updated: 7:51 p.m.
This is not the news most Sixers fans want to see.
Jimmy Butler will take free agent meetings with both the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sources: Jimmy Butler expected to meet the Miami Heat in South Fla. Sunday. Butler/Rockets meeting likely early week in LA. Sixers haven't ruled out working with Butler on sign-and-trades, which Miami and Houston need to acquire the All-Star guard.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2019
It was clear that both teams had an interest in Butler. Now it appears that feeling is mutual. The fact that the Sixers "haven't ruled out" working with both teams doesn't seem to bode well, either.
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This could all be posturing. Perhaps this is all just a negotiating tactic to ensure the Sixers offer Butler a fifth year. Since they own his Bird rights, they're the only team that can do so. The sides will reportedly meet "soon," while a couple suitors with cap space are also in the mix.
Sources: Jimmy Butler plans to meet with the 76ers soon and has interest from other teams with maximum salary space, including the Lakers and Nets, and sign-and-trade possibilities elsewhere.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 29, 2019
If you're looking into the sign-and-trade option, the Heat likely have the better assets, centering around young wing Josh Richardson. The Sixers can also just let Butler walk and use the cap space his departure creates if Houston and Miami don't offer packages that appeal to them.
All along, reports have said that the Sixers' No. 1 priority was retaining Butler and Tobias Harris - and that could still be the case. If the team is unable to re-sign Butler, you'd have to think their attention would immediately turn to securing the 26-year-old Harris.
A lot can happen between now and Butler's meetings. Teams can start negotiating with free agents at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Sixers should be awfully busy around that time.
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