Rumors have been swirling surrounding Celtics superstar, Kyrie Irving, and his reported interest in playing with Jimmy Butler. Butler has recently reciprocated this perceived interest, openly discussing his discontent with the ‘nonchalant’ attitude of the young Wolves. Together, the duo are planning a reunion at some point in the near future. The two All-Stars are set to become free agents after the 2019 season, so these rumors should come as a bit of a concern to the front offices of the two franchises.
There is a simple solution to this whole issue, and it begins with shipping Kyrie Irving and Abdel Nader to Minnesota. In return, Minnesota would hopefully send back All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns, along with veteran forward Taj Gibson. Boston would likely have to toss in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 2019 first-round pick to sweeten the pot. The proposed trade is as follows:
2019 Memphis Grizzlies first-round Pick
Kyrie Irving is going into the final year of a fully guaranteed 5-year/ $94.3 million contract. Irving will carry a cap hit of $20 million into next season. For any deal to work, Boston would need to absorb a similar amount of money in contracts from Minnesota.
Abdel Nader is entering into the 2nd year of a 3-year contract with a 4th-year team option. The contract is worth $4.1 million total with $2 million guaranteed. The salary cap hit for next season stands at $1.3 million.
Karl-Anthony Towns is going into the final year of his rookie contract with the Timberwolves. In 2015, Towns signed a fully guaranteed 4-year/ $25.7 million contract. He will carry a cap hit of $7.8 million into next season. This figure is much lower than that of Irving’s contract, which is where Gibson comes into play.
Taj Gibson is entering into the final year of a fully guaranteed 2 year/ $28 million contract. He will carry a cap hit of $14 million into next season.
If this deal went through, this is what the cap hit for each team would look like for the 2018-19 season:
$21.8 million against the salary cap.
$21.3 million against the salary cap.
Financially, this deal works just about evenly, with Boston set to absorb a mere half a million more than Minnesota.
Boston Makes This Trade If…
Kyrie Irving is serious about disbanding from the team to join forces with Jimmy Butler. A healthy Irving is just about as good as any point guard in the league, and with him in town Boston is a formidable opponent against just about anyone. There isn’t a whole lot of sense in making a move like this unless he truly is planning on leaving. Danny Ainge will have a sit down with Kyrie at some point, whether that is before the season or before the trade deadline. If Ainge feels he’s going to lose his star point guard at the end of the season, he will not hesitate to pull the trigger on a deal.
What better value can the franchise get in return than an All-NBA caliber big man? Towns is 22 years old and has been in the league for 3 years. He is averaging 21.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game for his career. Towns adds a major boost to the team’s thin front court while solidifying the starting lineup for years to come.
Taj Gibson gets thrown into the deal as a salary filler. But he could still provide a veteran presence to a young Celtics squad. Gibson had a bounce back year in Minnesota after struggling with the Thunder. He averaged 12.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game last season.
Minnesota Makes This Trade If…
Jimmy Butler is serious about leaving the team to play alongside Kyrie Irving. This deal works so well because both players seek to join forces with one another. Minnesota Head Coach Tom Thibodeau loves Butler and utilizes the versatile 2-way guard as the focal point of his offense. The last thing Thibodeau wants is to let his star walk. By making a deal that brings in Irving, Butler gets exactly what he wants while bolstering the team’s backcourt for the foreseeable future.
Kyrie is already considered a top 3 point guard in the league. Last season Irving averaged 24.4 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 40.8% from three. This trade would likely satisfy both stars and give the franchise a boost towards contention in the Western Conference.
Abdel Nader gets included in the trade as a young prospect with a respectable amount of potential. He didn’t see the court much last season with the Celtics, but he shined bright as a rookie in the G League. Nader took home the G League rookie of the year with averages of 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. He has a long way to go to make it in the NBA, but the potential is undoubtedly there.
The Memphis Grizzlies’ 2019 first-round pick conveys to the team if it falls between picks 9-30. If it does not convey in 2019, it becomes top-6 protected in 2020. If it yet again fails to convey, the pick is fully unprotected in 2021. The inclusion of such a reasonably valuable pick would be the icing on the cake in this proposed trade offer. Adding another lottery talent to a roster centered around Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving could tremendously help the franchise contend for years.
Will a Deal Get Done?
This deal is a win-win for both franchises. Both teams get a young All-Star caliber talent that will bolster their roster for years to come. Kyrie and Jimmy will be satisfied with the opportunity to play alongside one another. Such a deal relies heavily on how much pressure Irving and Butler put on their respective front offices to make it happen. That being said, don’t be surprised if trade rumors start picking up surrounding the two teams. Karl-Anthony Towns may be closer to Boston green than we think.