That's why Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles were listed as the frontrunner to obtain his services. Notable players, including Butler, are all slated to be unrestricted free agents.
Butler's ability to partner on the Clippers with a second star player in a deep summer free agency market holds a strong appeal to Butler, league sources said. The Knicks, much like the Clippers and Nets, also have enough cap space to bring in a top-tier free agent, but what separates NY from LA and Brooklyn is its All-Star talent in Porzingis - a rising 23-year-old star who's years away from his prime. If you remember a few years back, this pick was moved in order to get Jeff Green.
Towns isn't a finished product, as evidenced by his struggles early in the Wolves' first-round playoff loss to Houston last spring, but he has superstar-type talent and the Wolves want to keep him around for the long term.
CON: The Hawks seem like they're committed to a rebuild based around the ability to stretch the floor, a la Golden State. Butler met with head coach Tom Thibodeau and Timberwolves GM Scott Layden to discuss his future with the team on Tuesday, apparently reaching an impasse.
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Knicks GM Scott Perry said their philosophy doesn't mean they aren't constantly "evaluating" the roster this season to make changes, but he said now is not the time for big trade talk because they haven't had a single practice. There's no guarantee that Irving would want to return to Cleveland, regardless of his relationship with Butler.
The Clippers have the necessary assets to present the Timberwolves with arguably the best trade offer for Butler. According to ESPN, Butler prefers the Clippers.
There is no clear path forward from here for a franchise that already has had a turbulent offseason despite finally snapping a 14-year playoff drought last season, in no small part because the Timberwolves acquired Butler in a trade last June. They would have a year to convince him to stay and re-sign, similarly to what Toronto is trying with Kawhi Leonard.
So while there's nothing from Irving's camp that's indicated he's actually interested in teaming up with Butler and/or leaving the Celtics, it seems pretty obvious what Butler is angling for with his preferred destinations.