If the Bulls do part ways with Thibodeau, it’s unclear who they would target as his replacement. Sources peg Warriors assistant Alvin Gentry as a serious front runner.
February 22, 2017 | 11:45 pm EST Update
The Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams to have inquired about the availability of Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George in recent days, according to league sources.
While the conversation didn’t go beyond an initial expression of interest — which is common in the NBA in advance of the trade deadline — it’s notable simply for the names involved: New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Pacers president Larry Bird, lifelong rivals and close friends, were on the phone together.
Sources confirmed to ESPN in the wake of that meeting with Simon that Indiana has since invited teams like the Lakers and Boston Celtics to make pitches for George this week in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
As for the possibility of more trades from the Lakers before the deadline, sources say Johnson is far more likely to move a veteran such as Jose Calderon or Nick Young than anyone from L.A.’s young core.
The Bulls have told teams that have inquired about Butler — including, according to a source, the 76ers — that they have no plans to trade him. Of course, one blockbuster offer could change that stance. And the Celtics are loaded with assets. Most league observers expect the teams to at least have dialogue Thursday after engaging in serious talks centered on Butler last June.
In lieu of Butler developments, the Bulls focused on other discussions. Nikola Mirotic, who has been available for weeks, continues to be offered to teams such as the Clippers and 76ers, sources said. The 76ers have been shopping Whitney Young product and 2015 No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor for weeks but haven’t shown much interest in Mirotic.
Sources continued to say that, while there remains a chance things could change as the deadline draws nearer, Chicago and Indiana are more likely to retain Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively. Those All-Star talents have been the Celtics’ two main targets, and the club will no doubt work to put together an attractive trade package if either is truly on the market.