Skip to main content

Kendrick Perkins says Miami Heat will never win an NBA title with Jimmy Butler, current core; Why he’s right

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Miami Heat have undoubtedly taken a major leap since acquiring Jimmy Butler after the 2018-19 NBA season, going from a non-playoff team to reaching the NBA Finals in their first season. They’ve made the playoffs the past two years too, coming up just one three-point attempt away from potentially heading back to the NBA Finals a week ago.

But shortly after the Heat got eliminated from the playoffs, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins made some surprising comments that have generated a lot of discussions. Unfortunately, the clip is hard to find, but according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Perkins said the Heat would never win a title with their current core, and actually should consider trading Jimmy Butler.

Here are three reasons why Perkins’ hot take actually has more merit than you think.

Miami Heat rely too much on Jimmy Butler for scoring

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

As the roster is currently constructed, the Miami Heat put too much of the scoring burden on the shoulders of Jimmy Butler. He’s certainly an elite two-way player, which is a rare find in today’s NBA, but are the Heat asking too much of their star?

In my opinion, yes. Butler would be at his best in a 1B scoring role. He can still be a team’s alpha leader, just as he is now, but he shouldn’t be the team’s leading shot-taker.

Technically Tyler Herro currently assumes that role, after averaging 17 shots per game last season coming off the bench. But he disappeared in the playoffs as he fought through injuries. This is when Butler’s shot attempts spiked from 14.5 per game up to 19, with Herro’s dropping to 12.1 shots per game.

The Heat could look to trade Herro this offseason, but unless it brings back another volume shooter such as Bradley Beal, where does that leave the Heat? Not in a good spot.

Related: 3 ideal Duncan Robinson trade scenarios from Miami Heat

Heat need a Big 3

NBA: All Star Game-East Practice
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are the team’s top two players, then the Heat need a Big 3 to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Adebayo is like Butler in that he’s an elite defensive player who can also be an effective scorer. At 24 years old, Adebayo is still developing his offensive game, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever become much more than he is now, scoring 19.1 points per game.

Defensively, the Heat have enough to hang with anyone. Offensively? It’s a different story.

Meanwhile, in-house options to improve are limited, with Herro at 22 years old being the only consistent contributor, who is 25 or younger (aside from Adebayo).

Basically, despite the Heat developing several undrafted contributors into role players, if the current roster is to take a step forward, it’s not going to be from within. They may be able to maintain their current pace, as a top contending threat, but to become the best team in the NBA, the Heat need to go back to having a Big 3, like the Miami Heatles days.

Related: Bradley Beal to the Miami Heat, how a trade might look

Jimmy Butler has peaked

NBA: Playoffs-Miami Heat at Boston Celtics
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

As far as whether the Heat should actually consider trading Jimmy Butler, as Kendrick Perkins reportedly suggested, well maybe they should consider it. Think about it. Butler’s value will never be higher than it is right now. Imagine the type of trade package the Heat could get in return for the six-time All-Star.

Entering his 12th season in which he’ll turn 33 years old, we’ve already seen the best Jimmy Buckets has to offer. He’s not going to become a better scorer, not going to gain athleticism, and his body won’t begin to become more durable as he ages. Butler has a lot of miles on his chassis from averaging 37.6 minutes per game from 2013 to 2018, and it’s begun to show.

Butler hasn’t played more than 58 regular-season games since the 2018-19 basketball year. As he continues to age, his body will keep breaking down even further, which at his current pace, handling a large share of the offensive load, while being an absolute dog on defense, it’s only a matter of time before the wheels come off altogether.

At that point, the Heat could find themselves stuck paying max money for a minor amount of production. Butler’s heading into the final year of a four-year, $140 million contract in which he’s set to earn $37.6 million during the 2022-23 basketball year, but maybe the Heat would be better off gauging his trade value around the league instead.

Related: 3 ideal Tyler Herro trade scenarios from Miami Heat