Boston will have a healthy Irving and Gordon Hayward to begin the year after the team fell one win shy of reaching the NBA Finals last season without their two stars.
With their mix of veteran All-Stars and young phenoms, Irving is confident the Celtics can at least make the two-time defending champions sweat.
“Until we get to the start of the season, I think we have the talent to compete with them,” Irving said. “Obviously the quote of me saying ‘I feel like we could beat them in a seven-game series’ because I really do feel like that.”
See Irving’s full comments in the video below.
The reigning MVP spoke highly of Anthony, a 10-time All-Star who joined Houston’s core of Harden and Chris Paul this summer.
“He brings that vet leadership, added to the guys we already have, and his ability to score,” Harden said.
See Harden’s full comments in the video below.
Despite head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau reportedly rebuffing trade offers for the star shooting guard, owner Glen Taylor has told inquiring teams that Butler is very much available, according to ESPN.
The Timberwolves hold their first practice of training camp on Tuesday, leaving a short window for the franchise to complete a deal for Butler before they begin their preparations for the season.
There has been dysfunction within the team due to the deteriorating relationship between Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. While Butler is a four-time All-Star, Minnesota is building the franchise on Towns, who is seven years younger and on the rise.
On Saturday, the Timberwolves locked up the All-Star centre to a five-year, $190 million super-max extension, making it evident which star the team will commit to for the foreseeable future.
While Thibodeau wants to keep Butler around, with the two having a relationship that dates back to their time together in Chicago, many in the Timberwolves organisation would reportedly rather see Butler go.
In requesting a trade, Butler reportedly gave Minnesota a list of teams that he would prefer, which includes the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. All three teams are capable of creating two max-contract slots next summer, when stars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins would hit free agency.
Butler can sign a five-year, $190 million extension with any team that trades for him, or ink a four-year, $141 million deal as a free agent next offseason. Considering the max contract Butler is seeking and his age (29), teams may hesitate to offer the Timberwolves multiple valuable assets.
Regardless, Butler’s exit seems all but inevitable, with Taylor intent to oversee a trade of another star, as he did when Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love left Minnesota.
In waiting until just before training camp to request a trade, Butler has hampered the Timberwolves’ leverage.