If the Boston Celtics had traded for Jimmy Butler when ex-general manager Danny Ainge had the chance, would the current Miami Heat superstar have gelled in a Big Three alongside Kyrie Irving and Al Horford? 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Ty Anderson was unsure when discussing the hypothetical, committing to no side of the argument either way.
“What’s interesting is that the Celtics did ultimately decide to part with some of the assets Stewart mentioned in his 2016 scoop on the Bulls-Celtics talks, but they used ’em to acquire Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers and Marcus Morris from the Pistons in 2017,” Anderson prefaced before saying, “Would a Kyrie-Butler-Horford trio been enough for Kyrie to want to stay with the Celtics (it was once rumored that Butler and Kyrie had interest in a potential team-up together somewhere in the East), and more importantly, would it have been enough for the Celtics to ultimately win a championship?”
“That, like all hypotheticals, is a complete unknown.”
Kyrie Irving would’ve wanted out of the Boston Celtics organization no matter what
Could the Boston Celtics have won an NBA championship with Butler, Irving, Horford, and whoever else would’ve been on the roster after trades for the former two? Absolutely. Irving has won alongside a true alpha in LeBron James, and Butler has earned that status after nearly willing Miami to titles in 2020 and 2023 while taking the Celtics to the limit in the seven-game 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
But Irving always seemed destined to return to his home team Brooklyn Nets, who remember, were one of New Jersey’s only professional teams as Irving was growing up in West Orange, at some point in his career. And even that franchise, one he and Kevin Durant all but called the shots for, couldn’t keep Irving happy.
So if the Butler trade had happened, it’s possible Jimmy Buckets and whoever else Ainge would’ve kept around would still be in uniform. Instead, we have Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Horford still in green, and Irving is now a Dallas Maverick. For now.