All-Stars and former USA Basketball teammates Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving are interested in figuring out a way to play together, a league source close to the situation tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.
Both Butler and Irving were dealt to new teams in 2017 and thrived in those new homes during the 2017/18 season, so neither player is viewed as a trade candidate for the time being. However, both veterans hold player options for the 2019/20 season, meaning they could opt out and reach free agency at the same time a year from now.
Both Irving and Butler are eligible for contract extensions this summer, but are unlikely to sign them. A June report indicated that Irving won’t consider a new deal this offseason, since it wouldn’t make financial sense for the Celtics point guard to do so. Butler is in a similar boat for the Timberwolves, as he has the ability to make significantly more money if he waits for free agency.
Additionally, a league source tells Cowley that Butler has been “all but fed up with the nonchalant attitude of his younger teammates” in Minnesota. Cowley singles out Karl-Anthony Towns as a player who isn’t on the same page as the veteran forward, hinting that Butler’s end-of-season comments to the Sun-Times could have been aimed at KAT and other young teammates.
Butler said in late April that he doesn’t understand “how or why you all don’t love to get better the way that I do” and that he gets “lost in how everybody is not built the way that I’m built.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about unease in Minnesota related to the team’s three stars, Butler, Towns, and Andrew Wiggins. While there’s no indication that the Timberwolves need to take immediate steps to address any tension by moving one of those three players, the frequency of these reports is making it harder to envision them all staying with the franchise long term.