Kyrie Irving Wanted to Play for the Timberwolves but Danny Ainge Ruined it

Kyrie Irving, NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Finals are set to begin this week. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Timberwolves won’t be competing. Despite a strong season, they fell one series short, losing to the very formidable Dallas Mavericks, led by one of the best backcourts in our lifetime, with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

The finals are already intriguing, with Kyrie Irving and Kristaps Porzingis each going up against their former teams. Not only did Kyrie play for Boston, his time there was often tumultuous and his exit was inflammatory.

Did Kyrie Irving ever want to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves?

But that’s probably because he never wanted to play for the Celtics anyway. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Irving named four teams he was interested in playing for, back when he was trying to escape Cleveland in 2017.

According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Irving’s then-agent, Jeffrey Wechsler, informed Gilbert that his client preferred to be dealt to either the Spurs, Knicks, Timberwolves or Heat, with the list intentionally excluding the Celtics — the franchise Cleveland had just faced in Eastern Conference finals. And once Wechsler secured permission from Gilbert to contact opposing teams, sources said, he and then-Celtics president Danny Ainge engaged in frequent dialogue about Irving’s trade market.

Jake Fischer – Yahoo Sports

Boston was not on his list for a reason, possibly because of a heated Eastern Conference Finals series that seemed to have rubbed the then 25-year-old Kyrie Irving the wrong way.

One surprise team he did mark down, however, was the Jimmy Butler led Minnesota Timberwolves. Imagine if Kyrie Irving had joined the Minnesota Timberwolves back during the Butler/Thibs era. Talk about dominant backcourts with a championship mentality.

Because of Dan Gilbert and Danny Ainge, we’ll never know…

Now, with Kyrie leading the Dallas Mavericks (his fourth team) to an NBA Finals, Wolves fans can only wonder what might have been had Danny Ainge not convinced Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to toss Irving’s list of teams out the window all those years ago.

The list was quite short, featuring just Minnesota, San Antonio, New York, and Miami. Notably absent was Boston, the team he eventually got traded to. But that’s because Danny Ainge seems to get what he wants, and back then, what he wanted was Kyrie Irving.

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Now, Irving’s trade list from back then isn’t exactly new information. We covered this story back when it took place and Minnesota Sports Fan was just a baby website. But this Boston + Danny Ainge hijacking angle sheds fresh morning light on the past.

Had Cavs owner Dan Gilbert not allowed Ainge to reel Irving to Beantown, is it possible Thibs would have considered moving Karl-Anthony Towns and/or Andrew Wiggins as part of a package to bring Kyrie Irving to Minnesota and pair him with good friend, Jimmy Butler?

And if that’s how history had played out, how many championship banners would be hanging in Target Center? That may be the real question. But hey, things have a way of working themselves out. Maybe, everything happens for a reason. Now, Kyrie’s landed himself in a championship-level situation with the Dallas Mavericks.

Related: Should Tim Connelly, Timberwolves Find Different Help for Anthony Edwards This Offseason?

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Timberwolves believe they have the future face of the NBA, in a 22-year-old Anthony Edwards, who never would have landed in the Land of 10,000 Lakes had Jimmy Butler not, one year later, forced his way out of town.

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