Going into the off season with no cap room at all, Pat Riley was able to pull of a signing that no one saw coming. He got Jimmy Butler to agree to a 4-year $142 million max deal in a sign-and-trade, getting him away from conference foes, the Philadelphia 76ers, while also keeping him away from other interested teams like the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. All 3 other teams look on paper to have the better team than Miami. So how in the world did Pat Riley get Butler to the Heat?
Jimmy Butler was reportedly drawing interest from the Houston Rockets in a potential sign-and-trade deal. Most people believed that if he were to leave the 76ers, Houston would be the most likely destination over the Heat, as people believed the Rockets had more assets in a sign-and-trade. By not going to Houston, Butler saved himself from a disaster, as Butler would not be a great fit alongside Chris Paul and James Harden in Mike D’Antoni’s system. The Rockets run a style of offense where they play a lot of iso ball, and shoot a lot of 3’s. That is not how Jimmy Butler is, he demands the ball and next to Harden and Paul it would not work. Also, Butler has the ability to knock down 3’s, but would not be as effective with Harden and Paul there. The Jimmy Butler experiment in Houston would not last long.
There were some small rumors that Jimmy Butler could join LeBron and Anthony Davis in LA, but those rumors died quickly when it became obvious that they had their eyes set on Kawhi Leonard. Butler would have been a solid fit there, but it is obvious there was not that much interest from the Lakers.
Miami ended up with the All-Star briefly after the Free Agency period began,which is a perfect scenario for Butler and the Heat. Ever since Wade left to Chicago (ironically to join Jimmy Butler) , the Heat lacked a star player who could be the main scorer down the stretch. Even when Wade came back he had some clutch shots but was not the same player he once was. Jimmy Butler has always been known to be a really clutch player down the stretch and Miami desperately needed a guy like that, due to their recent inability to close out games and flat out lose games down the stretch. Butler makes his teammates around him better, while the Heat on paper might not have the most appealing roster of the other teams interested, but Jimmy is known for making his teammates play above expectations.
Jimmy Butler also benefits greatly by signing with the Heat. He is a grit and grind player who works really hard which is what the Heat are all about. The Heat are known for their work ethic whether they are losing or winning. Their constant grit and grind is what attracted free agents like Jimmy Butler despite not having a great overall roster. Butler fits right into this style of play and the culture that the Miami Heat organization have.
Only downside of this deal is Miami loses a young and promising player in Josh Richardson, but Jimmy Butler is like an upgraded version of him. The Heat needed a star, even if it meant giving up Josh. Overall, this will work out for Miami in the long run.