Jimmy Butler is emerging as a major player in the upcoming free agency with numerous teams said to be considering an approach for the shooting guard. Philadelphia 76ers are keen to retain the player they traded for during the 2018-19 season from the Minnesota Timberwolves and could offer him a max contract when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.

The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers are being touted as potential suitors for Butler this summer. ESPN’s Max Kellerman believes the 76ers forward could be convinced to join the latter if they land Kawhi Leonard, who has a meeting scheduled with the Clippers for July 2 – one day after he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The ESPN analyst believes the duo can lead the Clippers to the 2020 NBA championship, but Butler’s arrival will only happen if Leonard agrees to leave NBA champions Toronto Raptors and fulfill his desire to return home to Southern California. Kellerman also believes Butler will be well suited to the Lakers and will mesh well with LeBron James and new recruit Anthony Davis.

Meanwhile, NBA analyst Steve Kyler has suggested that the 76ers guard is the only player among the free agent class of 2019, that includes Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson among others, suited to playing with James because he won’t back down in the face of criticism from the three-time NBA champion.

Kyler is of the opinion that the likes of Leonard will not want to join the Lakers and be in James’ shadow but he is certain Butler can handle the pressure of playing with the 15-time All-Star and handle the flack if he does not play how James wants. The conversation about a potential partner for James began with the question about Derrick Rose joining the Lakers.

Jimmy Butler Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on against the Washington Wizards in the second half at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., Jan. 9, 2019. Photo: Getty Images/Rob Carr

“Just to play a little bit to get his confidence back, [but] my question is: how much or does Derrick [Rose] want to be in LeBron’s shadow? That’s always the unspoken problem in all of this is you got to be one of LeBron’s guys or you’re going to be pointed out by LeBron every time you don’t do what he wanted you to do. Not everybody is built for that,” Kyler said, as quoted on Heavy.com.

“When you look say a Kawhi Leonard I don’t think he’d want to be a part of that,” he added. “When you try to sell it to these marquee stars the only guy that kind of jumps out at me as being able to take it is Jimmy Butler because Jimmy will give it right back to him. You got to be on the plus side to what LeBron is doing and then be part of the Lakers what their soul is.”