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Five years ago, the Philadelphia 76ers moved Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat in a sign-and-trade, a decision they would come to regret. Now, the Sixers are plotting for a potential reunion. Should Butler force a trade from the Heat this summer, the Sixers would not only be interested, they would offer Butler a max extension, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Of course, any such deal is a long way off, and there are a number of moving parts involved. Here's a quick rundown of what would need to transpire before this would even be a possibility:

  • The Sixers can't sign Paul George in free agency

The Sixers have just about $65 million in cap space this summer, which is more than enough to add a max player. It's no secret that they're interested in Paul George, who has a player option for next season and has not signed an extension with the Los Angeles Clippers

According to The Ringer, the Clippers have not offered George more than a three-year, $152.4 million deal. If he hits unrestricted free agency, the Sixers could give him a four-year, $212 million contract. Would more money and a chance to team up with Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey be enough to lure George away from California? Time will tell. 

If the Sixers can't acquire George, they'll have to look elsewhere, and that's where Butler comes in. 

  • Butler would have to force the issue in Miami

Jimmy Butler is under contract for $48.8 million next season, then has a player option for $52.4 million in 2025-26. Per reports, he's seeking a two-year, $113 million max extension from Miami. Pat Riley and Co. do not seem keen on paying him that much. 

"We don't have to do that for a year," Riley said during his end-of-season press conference. "We have not discussed that internally right now but we have to look at making that kind of commitment... That's a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources unless you have somebody who's going to be there and available every single night. That's the truth."

If the Heat are unwilling to meet Butler's price, would he will be willing to make things messy? We've seen him do that in the past, but so far he's saying he wants to stay in Miami. 

"I feel at home, man," Butler said earlier this month. "I really care about the city. I really care about the people in this city. Miami has embraced me. They've wanted me to bring them something [win an NBA title] they haven't done since LeBron, D-Wade, and C-Bosh [in 2013]. And I want to do that. So as soon as I get this knee back right, I'm right back on they [butt] and everybody know it."

  • The Heat would have to decided to trade Butler

While Riley did not seem enthusiastic about giving Butler a big extension, he also isn't enthusiastic about getting rid of him. Asked if the Heat would consider trading Butler this summer, Riley was short and to the point: "no." 

Is there a tipping point in their relationship with Butler where they would change their mind? That remains to be seen. All indications right now are that the Heat will not entertain trading Butler, but the possibility cannot be ruled out given his contract situation and Riley's comments about an extension. 

If the Heat ever get there, and the Sixers haven't already signed George, they will be ready to pounce.