Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler have been pegged as possible future teammates since they will both be unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2019, but the Boston Celtics point guard said he hasn't spoken to Butler at length since the 2016 Summer Olympics.
According to ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan, Irving is "aware that he's been linked to Jimmy Butler in persistent free-agent rumors regarding a mutual desire to play together in New York," but "the last time [Kyrie] talked to Butler at length was when they were both playing with USA Basketball, and the two engaged in a spitballing session along with [Kevin] Durant and [DeMarcus] Cousins about what the future held for each of them."
Irving also acknowledged he's aware of the buzz that will likely circulate all season long as he prepares to hit the open market.
"I'm accepting it's going to be a constant story," Irving told ESPN. "It's a point in my professional career where it is a big-time decision. I've been away from Cleveland officially for a year now, and I'm finally getting acclimated in Boston."
Butler and Irving have been linked ever since the Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley reported in July that the two "are still trying to figure out a way to play together."
"Their intent is to build an elite backcourt, whether that's in Boston or somewhere else in the East," Cowley added.
While Irving has spoken glowingly of Boston all summer long, Butler has reportedly tried to facilitate an exit from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
According to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, Butler informed the Timberwolves he would like a trade and circled the Brooklyn Nets, Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers as his preferred landing spots.
Wojnarowski added the Clippers have "a strong appeal to Butler" because they will have two max salary slots available next summer.
As for Irving, NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely said earlier this month the Knicks intend to make the five-time All-Star their top priority in free agency.
"I've spoken with people within [the Knicks] organization," Blakely said on the Bulls Talk Podcast. "They have made it absolutely crystal clear to me that—if they had their pick of guys that are going to be in the free-agent market [next] summer—Kyrie would be their first, second, third and fourth choice."
ESPN.com's Ian Begley also reported "several executives expect Irving to give the Knicks consideration next summer if he tests free agency."