By Art Beitchman

The Sixers offseason target remains getting a top-tier player to join Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey next season.

And suddenly former Sixer Jimmy Butler has been thrown into the mix.

Butler is on the last year of his contract with the Miami Heat.

After the Heat’s ouster from the playoffs, Butler mouthed off about the Celtics victory, and that didn’t sit well with the Heat’s boss man Pat Riley, who said:

“If you’re not on the court playing against Boston, if your not on the court playing against the New York Knicks you keep your mouth shut criticizing those teams.”

As soon as those words were spoken by Riley it sounded as if the Heat were done with Butler, who hurt his MCL and didn’t play against Boston.

We’ll see.

The Heat are shy about giving Butler another big contract, and that’s where the Sixers come in.

Butler is about to turn 35 years old and is a perfect fit with Embiid, as he proved five years ago.

The Sixers will give Butler another big deal.

But they aren’t the only team that would be willing to give him a maximum-salary extension if they could acquire him from the Heat. League sources tell Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald that two other clubs have “made it known in league circles” that they’d also be open to trading for the star forward and then signing him to a max deal.

Butler remains under contract with the Heat for 2024-25 and holds a $52.4 million player option for 2025-26.

Heat president Pat Riley was noncommittal when asked earlier this month if the team would offer that deal, pointing out that no decision has to be made yet and hinting that Butler’s history of injury issues would make the front office wary about such a significant investment.

“It’s a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources, unless you have someone who is going to be available every night,” Riley said at his end-of-season press conference.

The Heat have shown no interest in moving Butler and he has shown no signs that he wants out of Miami — in fact, he has spoken multiple times about wanting to finish his career with the franchise. However, as both Chiang and Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel write, these rumors and leaks – which seem designed to let Butler know he has options if the Heat aren’t willing to give him the kind of deal he wants – could put added pressure on the club to address the 34-year-old’s contract situation sooner rather than later.

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