Simmons and Butler were teammates during the 2018-19 season after the Sixers acquired the latter from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Philadelphia beat the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the 2019 playoffs but lost to the Toronto Raptors in the second round on a Kawhi Leonard game-winning shot at the buzzer in Game 7.
In the summer of 2019, Butler joined the Heat via a sign-and-trade deal. Should Miami have a significant interest in acquiring Simmons, Butler may not be happy since he questioned the All-NBA defender’s mental makeup on the Sixers.
Heat reportedly have interest in Ben Simmons, which may not make Jimmy Butler happy
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, it’s increasingly likely that Simmons will be on the move this offseason. The Heat, Raptors, and Washington Wizards have been pegged as the most likely landing spots for the 2017-18 Rookie of the Year.
Butler may not be thrilled hearing this report from The Athletic since he questioned Simmons’ mental focus when they were teammates in 2018-19. Zach Harper of The Athletic touched on this aspect during the start of the 2020-21 season.
“Ben Simmons wasn’t quite (Karl-Anthony) Towns from a personality standpoint, but sources told The Athletic that Butler didn’t view him on par with someone like himself or Embiid when it came to mental makeup. More than anything, Butler didn’t like the hierarchy of the organization.”
Simmons’ commitment to basketball has been questioned since he hasn’t developed a jump shot and is sometimes reluctant to be aggressive on offense. Meanwhile, Butler appears to have found a home with the Heat after playing for the Chicago Bulls, Timberwolves, and Sixers. He led Miami to the 2020 Finals in his first year in South Beach.
It would certainly be awkward if the Heat traded for Simmons, especially since the LSU product reportedly didn’t like playing second fiddle to Butler in Philadelphia.
Ben Simmons was reportedly frustrated Jimmy Butler was primary ball-handler in 2019 playoffs
According to Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports, Simmons was frustrated that Butler was the primary ball-handler in the Sixers’ second-round loss to the Raptors in 2019. Philadelphia chose not to re-sign Butler because management was worried how Simmons would handle having the swingman around and managing crunch-time playmaking duties.
If the Heat trade for Simmons, it will be fascinating to see how the dynamic between him and Butler plays out. After getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, Miami is widely expected to be aggressive in trade talks and free agency since president Pat Riley hates to lose and is presumably motivated to get back to the Finals.
However, it doesn’t make sense for the Sixers to acquire a player Butler likely didn’t have a good rapport with in Philadelphia.
The Heat shouldn’t trade for the three-time All-Star
Simmons has four years and $147 million left on his current deal. That’s too much money for a player who can’t shoot the basketball and is a liability in crunch-time since he’s a career 59.7% shooter from the free-throw line.
The Heat are better off saving their assets for a player like Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal or Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, two superstars who may request trades this offseason. While a Big 3 of Simmons, Butler, and Bam Adebayo looks good on paper, the fit would be awful on the court since neither Simmons nor Adebayo can stretch the floor with perimeter shooting, which would prevent driving lanes from being created for Butler to attack.
Simmons is a superb defender and passer. He’s a one-man fastbreak and appears to be a good teammate. However, his flaws on offense are impossible to ignore, as is his previous stint with Butler.
With that said, the Heat shouldn’t trade for Simmons and would be better served to pursue a player who can move the needle and help Butler and Adebayo win a championship.