NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler Trying to Play Together for East Team

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2018

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 5: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics on defense against Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 5, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler reportedly hope to play for the same Eastern Conference team in the near future.

On Tuesday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the potential dynamic backcourt duo is "still trying to figure out a way to play together." They can both become unrestricted free agents next summer by declining player options in their respective contracts.

LeBron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and agree to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers has left a void in the East.

The Celtics are the top contender to take over as the conference's favorite to reach the NBA Finals, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers. Acquiring Butler would further solidify the Celtics' status, though Cowley noted it's unclear whether they will push for a trade given Irving's uncertain future status.

"Contractually, financially, [an extension] just doesn't make any sense," Irving told reporters last month.

If the guards do want to play together, they are probably best off hitting the open market next summer and trying to find a team with an established frontcourt star. That would likely be enough to vault their new franchise to the top of the heap.

The New York Knicks are the first team that comes to mind. Irving, Butler and Kristaps Porzingis would form the foundation for a title contender. From there, as the Golden State Warriors continued to show with the agreed-upon DeMarcus Cousins signing, other players are often willing to take less money to play on one of the superteams.

Whether it's the Celtics, Knicks or another team, it appears Irving and Butler are focused on joining forces far away from the Warriors, Lakers and Houston Rockets in the loaded West. 

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