Jamess social media activity comes after sources told ESPN that he was seen with Irving on Saturday at Hyde in Los Angeles. Irving also was filmed while walking through the city Wednesday.
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Sources told ESPN that James has also had contact with Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard and Philadelphia 76ers star Jimmy Butler. He had dinner with New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook on Wednesday at Nobu in Los Angeles.
Irving, 27, has a $21.3 million player option for next season. Davis, 26, is under contract for $27 million in 2019 and has a $28.7 million player option in 2020. Leonard, 27, has a $21.3 million player option in 2019. Butler, 29, has a $19.8 million player option in 2019 with the 76ers.
Should a team feel comfortable giving Jimmy Butler — who will turn 30 before next season, is a hard-charging personality who plays a hard-charging style that can be hard on his body, and has only once played 70 or more games in the past six seasons — a four-year, $141 million max contract?
If the Lakers strike out with Kyrie Irving and other top targets (Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard are not interested, according to sources), should they give Butler the max and sign him comfortable or not?
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LeBron James has already reached out to start recruiting Butler, and if the Lakers offer him the max Butler would love to come, Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times said on the Colin Cowherd. Markazi adds that the Clippers are not interested because they are aiming higher on the food chain.
When @ColinCowherd asked me this morning on @TheHerd what star player the Lakers could realistically sign, I didnt waste any time saying Jimmy Butler. He likes L.A, LeBron James has been in touch with him and he would join the Lakers in a second if they offered him a max deal. pic.twitter.com/wXStzcAFzh
That is what a lot of sources have said about the Clippers, they would need to move Danilo Gallinari (and do a little more) to sign both Leonard and Durant, but would and should in a heartbeat.
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Butler is going to have options, starting with the Philadelphia 76ers, who do not want to let him go. As it got near the end of Phillys playoff run it had seemed Butler had found a home, both on the court as a primary ball handler in the halfcourt, and off the court as a leader and someone who bonded with Joel Embiid. Also, Philadelphia can offer more money, a projected $190 million over five years, and for a guy who has had injury issues that extra year and extra money might matter a lot.
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Is Butler going to stay? What should we read into his cryptic Instagram post? If he leaves, does he want to play with LeBron? Is that the Lakers best option? (I think the Lakers should prefer Irving, who is younger and coming off an All-NBA regular season, plus he has a track record of winning with LeBron, but if not him…)
Butler has a track record of being a tough teammate, however. Could a dominant personality like Butler co-exist with James? It’s a risk that the Lakers may have no choice but to take, but it seems like a pretty good one. Butler’s known league-wide as one of the NBA’s hardest workers — something LeBron’s teammates have raved about often. So Butler and James wouldn’t have trouble finding common ground. However, Butler’s recent playoff performance in Philadelphia has made him a fan favorite, making it harder to see him bolting.