Boston Celtics Rumors
Meanwhile, the Bulls have been somewhat indifferent to potentially moving Butler, who is playing his third all-star game tonight. That’s why several teams, the Celtics included, have inquired about Butler’s availability. While the Bulls haven’t set any specific parameters, league executives believe they are seeking some combination of high draft picks and young veterans (players with experience who are either near the end of their rookie deals or have team-friendly contracts) just to consider moving Butler.
That more than anything else, is what will ultimately determine if a deal between the Bulls and the Celtics comes to pass. Boston loves Butler, and believes he could be part of their continued surge towards becoming an elite team that can bring home Banner 18. But the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them.
But in talking with league executives and scouts this weekend in New Orleans, all agree that the Celtics are focused more on making a blockbuster-type move, rather than a deal that could make them slightly better than they are now. “Anything is possible as you know,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “But they’re not Toronto which is basically ‘all in’ this year to try and get past Cleveland. Boston’s in the thick of it all, but not pressed to do anything unless it makes them a lot better and to be frank, there aren’t a lot of those potential deals out there for them.”
Even though Thomas is now a star who averages 29.9 points per game, is threatening Larry Bird’s franchise record for scoring average in a season, and is often serenaded with “MVP” chants at TD Garden, he still arrives at arenas earlier than the rest. He is joined by the usual group of Celtics staffers, as well as ballboys. The shooting sessions are short and purposeful and efficient, and everyone who takes part must be just as focused as Thomas. Strength coach Bryan Doo created a rule that if the ball bounces twice on a rebound, everyone has to complete a full-court sprint. The road ballboys are made aware of this policy before they begin. “And then,” Thomas says, “they figure out if they want to stay or not.”
He starts by taking 20 midrange jump shots from five spots on the court. Most go in without touching the rim. While Graves, Bailey, Barlow, and Reynolds stand under the hoop to rebound, Allen is closer to Thomas, offering instruction. The coach had a lengthy pro career in the NBA and in Europe, and he joined the Celtics’ staff in the summer of 2015. He likes to joke that Thomas did not even speak to him during his first month in Boston. After Thomas met Allen he Googled him, and his credentials checked out. They now have a trust rooted in loyalty and friendly jabs.
Allen looks for Thomas’s flaws, even though it can be a challenge to find them. He recently noticed that Thomas was shooting 3-pointers higher than normal because defenders were so close. If Thomas is being forced to alter his shot, it usually means he is in position to blow past his opponent, which is the preferred option.
They can do that without Butler, instead trying to make a minor move for a contributor like Suns forward P.J. Tucker. Boston has expressed deep interest in Tucker ahead of the deadline, a source said. Get Tucker, and the Celtics can add depth without giving up on a potential No. 1 pick. And there is cap space available this summer to sign a player in free agency. Without trading for Butler, Boston could keep the pick and get a name player this summer.