It’s no secret that Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has often been linked to disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler.
Here is what Jackie McMullen wrote about the Boston star, who told her that he has not spoken to Butler much since 2016 (via ESPN):
“Irving says he’s aware that he’s been linked to Jimmy Butler in persistent free-agent rumors regarding a mutual desire to play together in New York, but he says he’s had no such discussions with Butler. In fact, he says, the last time he talked to Butler at length was when they were both playing with USA Basketball, and the two engaged in a spit-balling session along with [Kevin] Durant and [DeMarcus] Cousins about what the future held for each of them.”
That does not dismiss the possibility they have spoken to each other this summer. Their paths may have crossed during a similar workout schedule with trainers or at an endorsement event, considering Irving is signed with Nike and Butler is with Jordan.
While it’s possible the two have discussed teaming up in the past, or have even hinted at it in passing, this is a particularly newsworthy quote now that Butler is angling his way out of Minnesota. Reports have indicated Butler is most interested in joining a team that will have enough cap space to sign two max contracts next summer: one for him and one for another star.
Many have assumed Irving would be that player, creating an elite backcourt presumably somewhere in the Eastern Conference — most likely with either the New York Knicks or Brooklyn Nets.
That might be Butler’s preference, as he is a big fan of the point guard, but that doesn’t mean it’s what Irving wants. Of course, it’s possible the Boston star is covering his tracks to make sure his allegiances are with the Celtics in public.
He could be contemplating a change of scenery behind closed doors, though it’s worth noting folks like ESPN’s Zach Lowe has reported that Boston feels confident they can re-sign the five-time All-Star.
But the main indication thus far has been that Butler is the one pushing these rumors based on his actions on social media and otherwise. The same cannot be said of Irving.
According to Marc Stein, the Boston guard is not trying to angle his way to the Knicks or away from the Celtics (via New York Times):
“There have been no firm indications from Irving or his camp that the All-Star guard is eyeing an exit from Boston next summer or that he’s angling to go to New York — as is often speculated.”
Irving and Butler could be an interesting pairing, especially if they joined forces in the East. It might still be an option down the line, though we can count out the idea that this is something the Celtics star is currently working or conspiring toward.