Jimmy Butler's Next Contract Will Decide the Future of Heat Culture

Apr 29, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) comments on the game from
Apr 29, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) comments on the game from / Michael Laughlin-USA TODAY Sports
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Heat Culture is reaching a crossroads. According to the Miami Herald, Jimmy Butler is seeking a contract extension this summer and it sounds like the Miami Heat are going to have to make a decision about the future of the franchise. Extend Butler or prepare for the next phase, whatever that may be.

Butler is the consummate Miami Heat player, but he turns 35 later this year. He missed 22 regular season games this season and appeared in more Fall Out Boy videos than playoff games. It's never been a problem that he misses a big chunk of the regular season because he's been such a great competitor in the postseason. Despite having a reputation for being an iron man under Tom Thibodeau during his early days, he's only played 70 games in a season twice in his entire career and hasn't appeared in more than 65 games since 2017 when he was still in Chicago.

But again, that hasn't mattered because he would show up when the games really mattered. He was "Playoff Jimmy" and he helped Miami reach the NBA Finals twice in his first four seasons with the franchise. This year, with him unvailable during the regular season the Heat finished with the 8th best record in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year. Instead of making a miraculous run to the Finals, they were eliminated in five games by a hated rival.

So now Butler wants an extension that will change the two-years, $101.2 million remaining on his contract into a three-year deal worth $161.7 million. Miami would be paying Butler about $58.6 million in his age 37 season. There's no reason to believe he'll be available more often going forward. Miami's only really good regular season in the Butler era was when they won 53 games two years ago. Butler appeared in just 57 games.

While Butler and the Heat have until next summer to work out that deal it doesn't sound like Butler wants to wait. According to the Miami Herald, "Butler and his camp will push for that extension before the start of the upcoming season. Choosing not to offer this exact extension this offseason could lead to a disgruntled Butler."

"Disgruntled Butler" is a very close relative of "Playoff Jimmy." You may remember him from such previous stops as Chicago and Minnesota, before he decided he wanted to get out of Philadelphia and head to Miami back in 2019.

It would be pretty interesting to see Butler and Pat Riley have a staring contest because what other franchise would want an expensive, aging star who rarely plays? I mean, besides the teams that already have one or two of their own. And how much is another team willing to give up in a deal for Butler?

It kind of feels like a situation where no one is going to get what they think they deserve, but Pat Riley always seems to find a way to wriggle his way out of this jam or another. The team has won three titles since he too his talents to South Beach and they've been reached Eastern Conference finals seven other times.

So maybe he can keep getting away with this. Maybe there will be another player available in the next year or two who fits perfectly with Heat Culture. It just seems unlikely that Jimmy Butler plays alongside this hypothetical player - whether he's on the roster or not.

Stephen Douglas


Stephen Douglas is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. He has been in journalism and media since 2008, and now casts a wide net with coverage across all sports. Stephen spent more than a decade with The Big Lead and has previously written for Uproxx and The Sporting News. He has three children, two degrees and one now unverified Twitter account.