LeBron James has gone out West to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the East is up for grabs for the first time in almost a decade.
This is the best news that Kyrie Irving (arguably the best player in the Eastern Conference now, or the most accomplished at the very least) and the Boston Celtics could have received by way of LeBron’s four-year, $154 million pact with the Lakers. The East now runs through Boston — with the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks (two teams the C’s eliminated without Irving last postseason) and Toronto Raptors — and has set Irving and the Celtics up to legitimately contend for multiple titles.
But it appears that Irving has even greater plans for a potential reign over the East.
In fact, according to The Chicago Sun Times, Irving’s plan involves another superstar.
A league source close to the situation told the Sun-Times on Tuesday that Kyrie Irving and former Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler are still trying to figure out a way to play together. Whether that means the Celtics try and acquire Butler this summer or the two simply wait a year, both opt out of their player options after the season, and join forces that way.
Operating with a mindset that it can accomplished in Boston, it’s worth noting that Celtics certainly have the assets to pull off a Butler-to-Boston trade. This is something something that Celtics president Danny Ainge was reportedly interested in in years prior, but that before both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum emerged on the scene as legitimate game-changers. That latter point could certainly change Ainge’s willingness to trade multiple assets for an Irving-Butler backcourt.
League sources also told the Chicago Sun Times that Butler has “no intentions of signing an extension with Minnesota,” saying that he was “all but fed up with the nonchalant attitude of his younger teammates, specifically Karl-Anthony Towns.”
If there’s truth to that statement, that does little to help Butler’s trade value, which could benefit the Celtics.
But the concerning element of this comes with the possibility that both Irving and Butler opt out and decide to form their own superteam elsewhere in the East. Irving’s decision to dodge all questions about a long-term fit with the Celtics to this point will not help settle any concerns here, especially with the Knicks looming in the background.
Oh, and Butler and Irving could potentially find this partnership with the New York Knicks, too, where they could be the one-two punch that Kristaps Porzingis needs to make the Knicks a legitimate threat in the East.