Any dreams the Knicks may have had about teaming up Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving next season appear to be dead, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. The Sixers are considered likely to re-sign Butler to a long-term contract after acquiring him from Minnesota in a deal that should become official tomorrow. That follows Irving’s declaration last month that he intends to remain with the Celtics when he hits free agency.
Butler and Irving are friends and there was talk earlier this year that they might be interested in teaming up in New York, with Butler “liking” an Instagram comment that suggested such a move. New York would have needed to trade for one of them, then sign the other next summer. The Knicks were on the list of teams that Butler gave the Timberwolves when he first made his trade request, but they never seemed interested in making a deal.
The Knicks’ options to land a franchise-changing star in free agency are beginning to dwindle, Braziller notes, and their success may depend on getting Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard to consider New York.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Knicks forward Lance Thomas had been experiencing knee pain for weeks before deciding to have surgery on Thursday, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. “Lance is our leader and we just [want to] get him back feeling good and get him back in that locker room with his voice,” coach David Fizdale said. Thomas will be re-evaluated in about a month, with Kevin Knox and Mario Hezonja expected to get more minutes while he’s sidelined. Fizdale may also use bigger lineups with Noah Vonleh at power forward (Twitter link).
- Sixers center Joel Embiid got a positive report on Butler when he reached out to Timberwolves stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Even though Butler clashed with both players during his time in Minnesota, they expect him to be a positive influence in Philadelphia. “They thought that he was going to be good for us,” Embiid said. “They thought that we were definitely going to get along. He wants to win. Wiggs told me that he thought that we were going to win the East for sure.”
- Celtics center Daniel Theis, who has been sidelined with a plantar fascia tear since October 27, hopes to return next week, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.