Jimmy Butler in Miami won't put heat on Celtics

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Jimmy Butler in Miami won't put heat on Celtics

Could Jimmy Butler land back in the Eastern Conference?

The New York Times’ Marc Stein cited sources Wednesday while reporting that disgruntled Butler and his agent had informed Minnesota Timberwolves ownership that the Miami Heat are now Butler’s preferred trade destination.

The Heat had one of the quietest offseasons in the NBA this summer, with their biggest splash coming only when Dwyane Wade announced he’d return for one final season.

A potential addition of Butler isn’t likely to make projected East frontrunners like the Celtics, Raptors, or Sixers start looking in their rearview mirrors, though it might thrust Miami into that next cut of playoff contenders alongside teams like the Pacers and Bucks.

A very different looking Celtics squad encountered a Butler-Wade combo during the 2016-17 playoffs and rallied out of a 2-0 hole to top the Chicago Bulls in six games during an opening-round series.

There had been a lot of hype this summer about whether Kyrie Irving might desire to team up with Butler, particularly with both able to reach free agency after the 2018-19 season. Irving has quieted that buzz, telling ESPN he hadn’t talked to Butler about the possibility of joining of forces since the summer of 2016.

Trading for Butler and committing big money to him next summer would likely take the Heat out of the running to add another max-salary player like Irving.

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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Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while. 

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