The Philadelphia 76ers have been enchanted with the energy and play that Jimmy Butler has brought to this team after being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves. All signs point to the organization being willing to re-sign him in the summer, but they may want to first shed some salary, and a trade of Markelle Fultz is a natural play.
According to John Gonzalez of The Ringer, Fultz's contract for next year could throw a wrench in the team's plans, given the near $10 million salary figure he stands to make in his third year.
We’ve reached the point where simply getting Fultz’s contract off the books might represent a (minor) victory for the Sixers. If Jimmy Butler sticks around and signs a five-year max, the Sixers could free up close to $30 million to throw at another quality free agent next offseason — but only if they renounce all their other free agents and find a taker for Fultz, who is set to make a little less than $10 million next season.
The maligned second-year player is reportedly out of the Sixers' plans for the future and could likely sit in limbo like Jahlil Okafor once did whenever he's fit to return to the team.
The trusty T.J. McConnell has already shown signs of having leapfrogged him in the rotation, as coach Brett Brown has already deployed him with good faith, getting immediate results defensively and in transition.
Fultz would make $12.2 million in his fourth year in the league — a contract the Sixers definitely don't want around as Butler's salary likely increases, along with that of Joel Embiid — all before Ben Simmons is due for big money.
The market for Markelle Fultz is very dry at the moment, and not playing him surely won't make it any better. At this point, the Sixers would be content with getting a workable asset in return for their former top pick, as long as they got to unload his contract.