Jimmy Butler to play out existing Heat contract, won’t sign extension with any team: Sources

Six-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler decided he would play out next season on his existing contract with the Miami Heat and will not sign an extension with them or any other team ahead of his opt-out clause in 2025, league sources briefed on the matter told The Athletic.

His decision to play out next season commits him to Miami and clears up any notion of a trade demand due to the lack of an extension. Butler has an affinity for Miami and has wanted to stay with the Heat, league sources said.

Meanwhile, the Heat have shown no interest in trading Butler, league sources said. Theoretically, they could still trade him this summer if they found a deal that suited them, but Butler’s unwillingness to immediately sign an extension would likely limit the return they would receive for their best player.

Butler, 34, has two seasons remaining on his current maximum contract — $48.8 million in 2024-25 and a player option for 2025-26 worth $52.4 million — and a handful of NBA teams have been closely monitoring his situation ahead of the draft and free agency.

The decision also gives Butler some flexibility. After averaging 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the Heat last season, Butler is determined to have a big season in 2024-25, which would help the Heat bounce back from a first-round playoff loss to Boston and position Butler for a bigger payday next summer in Miami or elsewhere.

If he opts out and becomes a free agent next summer, Butler will be eligible for a four-year maximum extension projected to be worth $243 million with his current team or a maximum three-year, $171 million pact elsewhere.

The rules of the collective bargaining agreement limit the Heat’s offering power this summer. Miami can give Butler an extension this offseason that is worth up to two years and $113 million. By waiting until next summer, he can get more years on a new deal via opting out and free agency.

But Heat president Pat Riley implied at the team’s end-of-season news conference in May that Butler’s lack of availability in recent seasons would play a role in the team’s decision-making process on whether to even offer a new deal to the superstar wing.

Riley did not pull any punches when discussing the Heat’s season and Butler’s long-term future with the team.

“That’s a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources unless you have somebody who’s going to be there and available every single night,” Riley said. “That’s the truth. We have to look at making that kind of commitment and when do we do it. We don’t have to do it until 2025, actually.”

Butler played 60 games this season and 64 games in 2022-23. He missed the Heat’s first-round series against the Celtics this season due to a sprained MCL in his knee. Not long after Miami’s season ended, Butler appeared on a video posted on social media saying that the Heat would have beaten both the Celtics and New York Knicks if Butler was healthy.

“If you’re not on the court playing against Boston or on the court playing against the New York Knicks, you should keep your mouth shut on the criticism of those teams,” Riley said in response.

Riley’s stern messaging ramped up the intrigue around Butler’s future in Miami. Butler forced his way out of Minnesota in 2018 in part because he wanted a long-term contract that would have been difficult for the Timberwolves to immediately execute under collective bargaining agreement restrictions.

Butler has won big over his five seasons in Miami — leading the Heat to two NBA Finals berths and one Eastern Conference finals appearance — and the franchise’s all-business culture has been a great fit for him. His decision, which comes before the draft and free agency, also allows the Heat to focus on making moves to improve the team around Butler as they try to contend in the Eastern Conference.

After Miami beat Boston in the 2023 Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics made two huge moves, acquiring Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis, who played major roles in their run to the championship this season.

Meanwhile, Miami missed out in its efforts to add star power around Butler and Bam Adebayo, including getting outmaneuvered by other teams for Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal in recent summers. It instead had to settle for veterans like Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant, and the roster fell behind the likes of Boston, Milwaukee and Philadelphia in the conference.

(Photo: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images)

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