With many top players in the Western Conference, it seems Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler want to create a superteam in the Eastern Conference.
Joe Cowley reported that Irving and Butler were interested in joining forces (via Chicago Sun-Times):
“A league source close to the situation told the Sun-Times on Tuesday that Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and former Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler are still trying to figure out a way to play together. The Celtics could try to acquire Butler this summer, or the two former Team USA teammates could simply opt out of their player options after next season and join forces then. Their intent is to build an elite backcourt, whether that’s in Boston or somewhere else in the East.”
Last season, the Minnesota Timberwolves were reportedly one of six teams to make an offer for Irving before he was traded to the Celtics.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst in a report from July 2017, Butler had “made it known to Wolves management” that he wanted Irving on the Timberwolves last summer. Windhorst added that Irving was interested in playing for the Chicago Bulls before Butler was traded Minnesota.
Zach Lowe wrote that it’s totally believable that Irving and Butler want to play together (via ESPN):
“Boston is confident it can re-sign Irving despite chatter — credible chatter — that Irving and Jimmy Butler would like to play together, per league sources. They’ve earned such confidence.”
Even if the Celtics do re-sign Irving, it’s unlikely that they could also add Butler without losing Al Horford.
While there are a few teams in the East that could have available cap space next offseason, it’s too early to make any real predictions on where the duo could play together — if they even continue to maintain interest a year from now.
It’s hard to imagine conference re-alignment as no owners in the East would vote on such a deal and taking away their potential playoff revenue.
Any team with Irving and Butler would immediately join Boston and the Philadelphia 76ers as forces to be reckoned with in the East moving forward.