5. Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers are heading into a potentially franchise-defining summer.
Five of their key rotation players—Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Wes Matthews, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph—are all headed into unrestricted free agency. If the Pacers renounce their rights to all five of them along with their other free agents, they can carve out nearly $44 million in salary-cap space, which is more than enough to offer a max contract to any star free agent.
With Victor Oladipo working his way back from a torn quadriceps tendon he suffered in late January, the Pacers may decide they need to go big-game hunting in free agency. Their lack of a go-to offensive option sans Oladipo proved to be their undoing in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
That may make Butler a perfect fit.
The Pacers’ gritty, physical identity may appeal to the defensive-minded Butler, and he could slide in as their No. 1 option until Oladipo is back up to speed. With reigning blocks leader Myles Turner roaming the middle and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Domantas Sabonis coming off the bench, Indiana has an appealing supporting cast in place despite its impending free-agent flux.
Bogdanovic only has a $13.65 million cap hold, so the Pacers could keep him on their books and still come within $1 million of being able to offer Butler a full max. If his time with the Chicago Bulls didn’t turn him off of the Midwest permanently, he and Indiana would make a ton of sense together.