Celtics

With Knicks on Jimmy Butler's wish list, could Kyrie Irving be far behind?

With Knicks on Jimmy Butler's wish list, could Kyrie Irving be far behind?

BOSTON – Jimmy Butler reportedly wants out of Minnesota and has a trio of teams he’s interested in, and that includes the New York Knicks.

Despite the Celtics not being among Butler's preferred destinations, they have the fifth-best odds of landing him, according to Bovada.

And the Butler-to-the-Knicks talk is indeed worth watching for one reason: Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics All-Star, who will become a free agent in the summer of 2019, has reportedly longed to play with Butler.

If New York is able to trade for Butler this season, it would do nothing but enhance their chances of landing Irving when he becomes available.

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Of course, New York’s chances of trading for Butler and turning around to sign Irving next summer will be difficult to achieve, especially with Joakim Noah’s contract ($18.5 million this season, $19.3 million next year) still on the books.

Still, in acquiring Butler, it would provide the Knicks with the kind of hope that maybe -- just maybe -- they can bolster their roster in the both the short-term with Butler, and potentially long-term if they can reshuffle their roster and create a max-salary slot for Irving.

Of course, Irving’s future rests heavily in how things play out with the Celtics, who will enter the season as the odds-on favorite to advance to the NBA Finals.

And a big part of those lofty expectations lies in Irving, who has been at the team’s practice facility playing 5-on-5 with his teammates.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has had a chance to see Irving at work and when asked about whether he has all his moves back, Stevens smiled, “he’s got ‘em.”

Boston has maintained from the very start that its goal is to create a winning culture, and that all players who are part of the program understand that they are part of the team’s success.

Even before Irving arrived in Boston, he had established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. But it wasn’t until he arrived in Boston did he not only produce at a high level, but do so in leading a team to the postseason.

What’s often lost in the narrative behind Irving’s decision to ask out of Cleveland, was the fact that he had never had any team success without LeBron James.

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And as talented as Irving was for the Cavs, there was no way that was going to change as long as James (now with the Los Angeles Lakers) was around.

But in coming to Boston and finding both individual and team success, Irving has shown himself to be more than a productive player, but also someone who can successfully lead others.

That makes his return to Boston a no-brainer, right?

Not exactly.

While there is no question Irving has enjoyed his time in Boston both on and off the court, there’s no telling what he will be searching for when the summer of 2019 arrives.

And that is why the Butler-to-New-York talk is worth watching if you are a Celtics fan.

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Five things you should know about this Celtics-Kings matchup

Five things you should know about this Celtics-Kings matchup

There have been strong scoring nights, defensive slugfests and everything in between, for the Boston Celtics who come into today’s game at Sacramento riding a league-best winning streak of 10 in a row. 

And with five straight games out West, the Celtics got things off on the right foot with a 105-100 win at Golden State, the fourth time in the last five years Boston won on the Warriors’ home floor. 

Boston has won its last two games on the Kings’ home floor, and three of the last four. 

Here are five more things you should know about this matchup.

NO FOX HUNTING

The Boston Celtics won’t have to worry about chasing Sacramento point guard De’Aaron Fox around today after the lightning quick point guard reportedly suffered a Grade-3 ankle sprain (the most severe kind) early last week. The injury is supposed to keep him sidelined for at least a month. Fox is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game this season, along with seven assists and four rebounds which is also a career-best mark for the third-year guard. 

TATUM PART OF EXCLUSIVE CLUB

The scoring by Jayson Tatum this season is a clue as to how much of an impact the third-year forward is making when he’s on the court.

This season, the Celtics have a plus/minus of +134 when Tatum is in the game. How big a deal is that? There are only three players whose plus/minus thus far this season exceeds 100. There’s LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Tatum. That’s it. And of the trio, the plus/minus leader is Tatum followed by James (+109) and Antetokounmpo (+107).

Sacramento’s leader is Richaun Holmes (+31).

TRIPLE THREAT

Prepare to see lot of 3-pointers go down tonight for both Boston and Sacramento. Each team has weaponized the 3-point shot as a key to their offensive strategy this season. The Kings come into today’s game averaging 13.3 made 3-pointers per game which ranks sixth in the NBA. Right behind them at No. 7 is the Boston Celtics who are averaging 13.0 made 3-pointers per game this season.

Leading the 3-point barrage for the Kings is Buddy Hield, one of the league’s top 3-point shooters. He’s averaging 3.6 made 3-pointers per game this season which is good for the No. 4 spot in the NBA. Right ahead of him at No. 3 is Boston’s Kemba Walker who is connecting on 4.3 made 3-pointers per game. 

KINGS GET CROWNED DOWN THE STRETCH

If the Celtics find themselves trailing in the early stages of today’s game, it probably will have more to do with the Kings than anything the Celtics are doing. Several factors have contributed to Sacramento’s 4-7 start this season, but how they begin games scoring the ball isn’t one of them.

Sacramento is +2.4 points per game after the first quarter of play this season which ranks tied for the fourth-best mark in the NBA this season. However, they are a bottom-10 team when it comes to plus/minus in the fourth quarter (-1.3 points, 21st in the league). Meanwhile, the Celtics’ plus-minus of +4.4 in the fourth is second in the NBA to the Los Angeles Clippers (+5.2). 

PAINT PATROL

Minimizing points in the paint is one of the bigger concerns about the Boston Celtics coming into this season. But to their credit, they have done a solid job of not allowing that to be an issue that gets in the way of winning. Boston is allowing 44.2 points in the paint this season which is the eighth-fewest points in the paint allowed per game this season.

Today the Celtics face a Sacramento team that has struggled in many facets of the game with scoring in the paint being among them. This is evident by Sacramento’s offense generating a league-low 39.8 points in the paint per game. 

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Boston Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings live stream: How to watch online

Boston Celtics vs. Sacramento Kings live stream: How to watch online

The Boston Celtics (10-1) were able to extend their winning streak to 10 games on Friday night in a tightly contested game against the Golden State Warriors. Now, their west coast road trip will continue with a game against another California team.

The C's are taking on the Sacramento Kings (4-7) in what should be an entertaining game. The Kings started off the season slowly, but they are 4-2 in their past six games. They dropped a Friday night clash with the Los Angeles Lakers, but they only lost by two points. So, it's safe to say that they know how to compete with top-tier teams.

All eyes will be on Celtics wing Jaylen Brown in this game. He has posted four straight games with at least 22 points and he'll look to keep his scoring streak going on the road.

Be sure to tune into NBC Sports Boston for Celtics Pregame Live at 3 p.m., followed by the game at 3:30 or stream it via the MyTeams app. 

HOW TO WATCH

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 3 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Tommy HeinsohnMike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.