Kyrie Irving, left, and Jimmy Butler have played with each other on Team USA. (Michael Dwyer/AP/AP)

极速时时彩网站 Jimmy Butler authored something of a feel-good story for the Timberwolves last season, when he joined a young squad and helped it land the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2004. However, the four-time all-star might feel much better if and when he leaves Minnesota?— and winds up on a team with Kyrie Irving.

That’s according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, who wrote Tuesday that Butler was “all but fed up” with his teammates in Minnesota, in particular the team’s other all-star player, Karl-Anthony Towns. Butler, who spent his first five seasons with the Chicago Bulls before a 2017 draft-day trade, and Irving, who completed his first season with the Boston Celtics after a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers, were said to be?“still trying to figure out a way to play together.”

The Sun-Times reported that Butler, having caught wind last year of Irving’s disenchantment with playing second fiddle to LeBron James in Cleveland, suggested that Chicago’s management look into acquiring the star point guard. Instead, the Bulls decided to embark on a rebuilding project, and they dealt Butler as the centerpiece of a package that netted them?Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine.

It is possible that Butler could be traded for a second consecutive summer, and hardly out of the question that he winds up joining Irving in Boston. Minnesota has reportedly offered Butler a maximum contract extension worth $110 million over four years, but Crowley cited a league source in claiming that the 28-year-old swingman has “no intentions” of passing up an opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

Thus the Timberwolves could be tempted to get something for Butler before he walks, and the Celtics could be tempted to deploy a few of their much-coveted assets to acquire him, assuming trade talks with the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard don’t pan out. With James having announced Sunday that he will join the Lakers, his years-long dominance of the East is over, and Butler might just be the piece Boston decides would help it secure hegemony in the conference.

At the same time, the already imposing Western Conference now appears to be stronger than ever, and Butler might have his doubts about the readiness of his current team to handle the rigors of a tough race to return to the playoffs. Crowley reported that Towns had yet to show Butler he was a “foxhole” type of player, and that a trade of the 2015 draft’s No. 1 overall pick might be the lone way Minnesota could hope to keep Butler long-term.

Towns isn’t the only noteworthy T-Wolves player with whom Butler has been said to have a problem. The Sporting News’s?Sean Deveney reported in June that Andrew Wiggins, who arrived in Minnesota in the 2014 trade that allowed Kevin Love to join James and Irving in Cleveland, caused Butler to have concerns about “his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor.”

Wiggins likely isn’t going anywhere, given that the five-year, $146.5 million contract extension he?signed?last year and his underwhelming 2017-18 performance make him difficult to trade. Minnesota is also reportedly “intent” on offering Towns an extension that could be worth as much as $187 million over five years, meaning that Butler may well be looking for a change of locker-room scenery.

The same could potentially be said of Irving, who has already publicly dismissed the idea of signing an extension in Boston and is heading into the final year of his?contract. He may decide to stay with the Celtics?— assuming they want to keep him, rather than possibly trading him away as soon as this summer?— but he could also leave in 2019 for?another team, and there are a few in position to have the salary cap space to sign both him and Butler.

One of those squads is the Bulls, whose beleaguered front office probably wouldn’t need much convincing to scrap the rebuild in favor of putting together a new super-team centered on Butler, Irving and Markkanen, who is coming off a very promising rookie season. Butler said in April that he wouldn’t mind an eventual return to Chicago, so a relatively speedy one wouldn’t seem to be out of the question, especially given that, as noted, the East suddenly appears to be up for grabs.

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