Jimmy Butler's fate with the Miami Heat may already be sealed

Jimmy Butler (pictured) versus Philadelphia 76ers in the 2024 Play-In Tournament
Jimmy Butler (pictured) versus Philadelphia 76ers in the 2024 Play-In Tournament / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have some decisions to make regarding their futures. Butler appears ready to hit the open market after this season. Butler's been seeking a mass extension for the entire offseason, but the Heat have been reluctant to give in to Butler's demands. However, the Heat pounced on an opportunity to extend franchise big Bam Adebayo to a max contract. With Miami essentially choosing Bam over Butler (for now), are they pushing the aging star out of Miami for good?

Taking a look at Adebayo, he's been selected to five straight All-Defense teams, finishing top five in the Defensive Player of the Year all five of those seasons. Additionally, Bam is a three-time All-Star selection, including each of the last two seasons. Adebayo averaged 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and a combined two 'stocks' (steals and blocks) per game. Adebayo's durability was another huge factor in the extension, having played in 65 or more games in five of his seven seasons.

While the counting stats and averages tend to be identical every season for Bam, his overall impact on the game outside of box score stats can't be denied. One of the league's most switchable defenders, Adebayo can often guard all five positions against most opponents. Even though he's not a shot blocker, his length and athleticism frustrate opponents. However, Bam's continued growth and consistency on the offensive end of the floor has convinced Miami to keep him long-term.

The biggest improvement for Adebayo this past season was his shooting. With signs of good shooting touch in the past, the league has been waiting for Bam to become a threat from outside the paint. This year, opponents got a glimpse of a full arsenal for Bam, as he shot 15-of-42 from three (36 percent), both career-bests for a single season. While the volume is low, the efficiency is higher than it's ever been for Bam. Before this season, Bam was just 8-of-62 (13 percent) lifetime from three.

The fate of Jimmy Butler after Bam Adebayo's contract extension

On the flip side, Miami has several reasons to avoid paying Jimmy Butler. He hasn't played 65 or more games as a member of the Heat, and he's nearing the age of 35. Butler's absence towards the end of the season derailed any hopes for the Heat in the postseason, considering the heavy usage Butler accepts in the playoffs. The development of Tyler Herro and Jaime Jaquez Jr. could go a long way in deciding if Butler's worth a massive contract extension, given his age and injury concerns.

A 40 percent three-point shooter, Herro averaged 21 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 42 games. A mid-season injury derailed a promising season for the fifth-year guard, who will have to elevate his level of play moving forward if the Heat elect to move on from Jimmy Butler. Jaquez Jr. was a first-team All-Rookie selection, averaging 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists per game.

Furthermore, Butler's play style is a rapidly dying one in a league transitioning towards fast-paced, high-scoring, three-point shooting offenses and skill sets. Butler is still one of the league's top defenders when healthy, but his injuries have begun to pile up. Fortunately, Butler had a career-best season from deep, shooting 41 percent from three, easily a career-best. Butler shot 50 percent from the field, averaging 20 points, five rebounds, five assists, and over a steal per game in 60 games.

Jimmy Butler has made his intentions clear, hitting the free agent market next offseason. That includes not signing an extension with Miami or any other team Butler could be traded to. Poised to receive the payday he's looking for, expect a healthy, motivated, revitalized Jimmy Butler next season. 'Playoff Jimmy' could be one of the best players in the league if healthy, making Miami a dark horse team heading into the heart of the NBA offseason.

Meanwhile, the Heat appear ready to turn the page and tool their roster around the youth of their team, rather than pay a 35-year-old aging star with short-term contending goals in mind. With tensions rising, the Jimmy Butler era in Miami may very well be coming to an end.