Celtics

Stephen A. Smith: 'The Celtics are planning on acquiring Butler'

Stephen A. Smith: 'The Celtics are planning on acquiring Butler'

Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” Monday that the trade between the Celtics and 76ers that will send the first overall pick to Philly is tied Boston’s pursuit of Bulls forward Jimmy Butler. 

Smith said that the Bulls offered Butler to the 76ers in an attempt to acquire the third overall pick in the draft, but that Philadelphia wasn’t interested. Now that Boston has the pick after trading the top selection for No. 3 and a future first, Smith believes the C’s intend to trade for Butler. He added that the Celtics would then sign Gordon Hayward in free agency. 

MORE TRADE/FREE AGENT RUMORS

“The Boston Celtics are planning on acquiring Jimmy Butler,” Smith said. “They don’t know if they’ll be able to, but their hope is they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick, get themselves Jimmy Butler, go into free agency, get Gordon Hayward, and then combine Butler with Hayward, keeping Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and those boys in tow, and making a legitimate run at the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown knowing that they then get to come back the following year and likely get another first-round pick on top of the one that they will have, etc. etc. 

“So that’s their belief right now for the Boston Celtics, the No. 3 pick, worst-case scenario that they find themselves in a position to draft somebody like a Josh Jackson out of Kansas, but the hope is that they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick to get their hands on Jimmy Butler. They believe they’ve got a better shot than anybody at getting Gordon Hayward from Utah to come and play for his old college coach at Butler, Mr. Brad Stevens, and as a result, the combination of those two additions to the squad along with keeping the nucleus of their team intact will make them on par, at least in most folks’ eyes, to legitimately compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown again.” 

Butler, 27, has two more years on his contract with a player option for the 2019-20 season. 

WATCH: Kyrie Irving shows off some vintage moves in All-Star Game

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USA TODAY Sports Images

WATCH: Kyrie Irving shows off some vintage moves in All-Star Game

Kyre Irving flirted with a triple-double (13 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists) as a starter for Team LeBron in Sunday night's All-Star Game in Charlotte, as LeBron's team came back to beat Team Giannis 178-164 to close out the weekend's festivities.

Irving, who was held out of the Celtics' last two games before the All-Star break with knee concerns, didn't appear to look too bothered as he glided up and down the Spectrum Center floor.

There was this crafty up-and-under on the Nuggets' Nikola Jokic:

And when Team LeBron pulled ahead late, Irving lobbed one up for his former Cavaliers teammate in an alley-oop that recalled finer days in Cleveland:

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Irving's game, right knee look strong in All-Star performance

Irving's game, right knee look strong in All-Star performance

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NBA All-Star games aren't the best barometer as to how well or woeful a player may be health-wise, with the level of intensity lingering somewhere between a five-on-five practice and an exhibition game. 

But Kyrie Irving, who had not played in a game since injuring his right knee on Feb. 9, didn’t look any worse for wear in Team LeBron’s 178-164 win over Team Giannis in Sunday night’s All-Star game. 

Irving finished with a near double-double of 13 points and nine rebounds along with six assists in his sixth All-Star game and fourth as a starter. 

“It was good to get out and play the game I love,” Irving said. “This is always fun; really special for me. The point I am in my career, just appreciate it more.”

☘️ CELTICS AT ALL-STAR WEEKEND

One of the game’s highlights involved the league honoring Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade with framed All-Star jerseys during a stoppage of play. 

“It’s emotional for those guys, I know,” Irving said. “To think they put that much work in every single day, dealt with the lifestyle, been very successful at what they did. They’re raising families now, they're about to leave the game. It’s crazy;  I’ll be there one day. I appreciate that.”

One of the main reasons Irving opted to play in the game was to give his well-rested body a chance to run up and down the floor against some of the best players in the world, even if they weren’t going to be running up and down the floor with the kind of focus and intensity you see in the regular season. 

But most important, getting a chance to get on the floor Sunday night can only help Irving pick up where he left off after missing two games with a right knee strain and a tough game on Thursday at Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee. 

“I shot a basketball twice in the last eight days,” Irving said. “I missed it (playing basketball). I don’t ever want to take games off. But when it happens to do with my body, the investment that I put in it, I’m glad it’s at a high level.”

The Celtics (37-21) are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Milwaukee Bucks (43-14) by 6.5 games with 24 remaining for the best record in the East. 

Irving returns to the floor in what has been one of his best seasons ever.

He is averaging a team-leading 23.6 points along with 4.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists while shooting 49.8 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from 3-point range. 

Irving is the only player in the NBA this season averaging at least 23 points and six assists while shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range. 

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