Steve Bulpett: There's Jimmy Butler talk happening, but…

More on Jimmy Butler to Celtics?

Shams Charania: For Jimmy Butler there hasn't been much. Chicago hasn't really been open and really looking to move, as Boston has tried over and over to engage in discussions.
Surely, the Celtics must be coming for Butler next, right? As of Sunday, the talk is based more on speculation than reality, a stance that at least three league executives the Tribune spoke to over the weekend don't expect to change by Thursday. There is plenty of belief within the league and the Bulls organization that the Celtics are poised to use the No. 3 pick Thursday and then pursue Jazz All-Star Gordon Hayward in free agency come July.
The more assets the Celtics have, the more assets the Bulls would ask for in a potential deal. But many around the Bulls don’t believe Ainge will even come calling before draft night, sources tell CSNChicago.com. The Celtics have enough to put a competitive team on the floor as is without having to add a player of Butler’s caliber.
We got Wahlberg out in NYC and asked him about the Celtics' envious dilemma, whether to use the #1 pick in this year's draft on a college stud (probably Fultz) or trade for an elite NBA player. Mark -- a huge Celtics fan -- made his position clear, he wants to slang the pick, and wouldn't mind getting his good friend -- and Bulls star -- Jimmy Butler back in return.
"That would be concerning," Griffin added. "I mean, we don't get to play anybody else's cards, right? So spending a lot of time worrying about it doesn't make sense. But certainly we were paying attention. Toronto obviously made some moves to get much better and our conference has been I think quietly getting better on a steady increase since we got there. So I think we were concerned with the whole conference."
"The Cavs were on pins and needles yesterday about the Celtics getting Paul George or Jimmy Butler," said Brian Windhorst on Zach Lowe's podcast," said Brian Windhorst on Zach Lowe's podcast.
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.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski on Jimmy Butler: Boston at some point this week will reach back out, I’m fairly certain, and maybe come back with another offer. They’ve talked in the past. Chicago is in a position where they want someone to blow them away with an offer. Boston has the opportunity because of having the Brooklyn’s pick.
The Celtics have reservations, according to league sources, about adding Butler after how wonderfully the Isaiah Thomas emergence has gone. There is valid reason for concern, because Thomas is reveling in his top-dog status. This is what he said after the All-Star Game late Sunday night: "I'm coming for the scoring title."
A deal for Butler now seems unlikely, unless the Bulls are posturing. There is some debate over whether Boston did or did not ever include the 2017 Nets pick in an official offer, but they'd have to for Chicago to really engage. Perhaps clarity will come at the lottery, after Chicago sees how far Butler can take their current team and everyone knows where Boston will pick.
Of course, even if the Bulls were to reach an organizational consensus on trading Butler before Thursday, it takes two to tango. And league sources indicated the Celtics have been underwhelmed by all preliminary offers for their main future assets — the Nets' 2017 and 2018 first-round picks. The former could be the top pick in a strong draft.
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.
There have been tepid discussions about Butler-to-the-Celtics at various times over the past year, though nothing pressing in recent weeks, according to league sources. It’s safe to assume that there will be renewed talks this week. But that does not mean a deal will get done, not with both sides tentative about the wisdom of a trade that the rest of the NBA’s observer class seems to think is such an obvious fit.
League sources told SN this weekend that the Bulls are still very much uncertain of the direction they want to take this season. Rebuilding makes the most sense — the decision to sign veterans Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade last summer was a mistake — but the Bulls are still very much in position to make the playoffs in the East.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The potential of a Boston, Chicago deal for Jimmy Butler would loom over the entire week. These teams have engaged on the potential of this trade, they have not gotten far down the road on it. There still need to be an alignment within the Bulls’ organization from ownership to management that they want to make the decision to enter a full rebuild.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The fact that the Celtics swap with Brooklyn this year, they have their pick which could be potentially a Top-3 pick and they have the Brooklyn’s pick outright next year. Either one of those picks, I don’t think Chicago can get both of them, that’s the beginning point of a deal for the Bulls for Jimmy Butler.
With that said, one executive pointed out that the Bulls can be tough to negotiate with, add that if Chicago does decide make a trade, they would likely wait until just before the deadline to complete the deal. Another league source speculated that moving a face-of-the-franchise like Butler seems more like an offseason move than a mid-season one, but did add that a trade could happen if the right offer came along.
Late last week, a league source suggested Butler did not appear to be on the trade market --yet. But you can be sure the Celtics are monitoring the situation closely. We're only seven months removed from serious draft-night discussions between the Celtics and Bulls, and Chicago's season is threatening to spin out of control.
There are rival executives who believe the Bulls and Celtics will rekindle trade talks centered on Jimmy Butler before the Feb. 23 deadline. The teams held serious talks in June, and the Celtics own the same assets — Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Nets' first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — the teams discussed then.
A league source with knowledge of the situation indicated to me that Chicago also demanded an additional starter-level player in the deal. It’s unclear what was and wasn’t discussed exactly, but what we do know is that the Bulls weren’t prepared to go full-rebuild (though that could change by the trade deadline). “We’re trying to find deals. And sometimes you have to make small deals in order to be able to have big deals,” Ainge said. “You have to put yourself in position with good young players and good contracts and future assets. It puts us in the game if there’s a player that becomes available in the trade market, but they have to like those young players and assets,” Ainge said.
The initial key for the Bulls was the third overall pick from last month’s draft and the ability to select Providence guard Kris Dunn. The aforementioned sources added that the Celtics were willing to add one player from their rotation when Chicago wanted a second. “Another sticking point in that and in other deals Boston is talking about is that pick from the Nets next year,” said one of these sources. “Danny will make it available in the right situation, but he’s not going to give it up with core players, too. That’s going to be a good draft, and that’s going to be a high pick.
There is strong evidence the Celtics could have made a trade for Butler, but neither side felt what was being offered by the other was worth doing. If it had simply been a matter of getting Butler to get Durant, the C’s would have overpaid and done it. But that’s where the story changes. According to sources close to Durant, one of the things that interested the former league MVP about the Celts, as we’ve stated before, is the core that has been gathered. He was very interested in playing with a cohesive and complementary unit, which is what he is getting in Golden State.
Sources are telling us that the C’s are still holding the line on their offers from prior to the draft. They will make trades if teams come around to their price. Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor are said to be still available, but getting them now won’t be as easy as on draft night when Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively, both coveted the No. 3 overall pick so they could take Providence’s Kris Dunn.
There are indications the Celtics may still be able to do business with the Bulls and 76ers, but both sides will have to get creative. As it stands, the word is the Celts are looking at a core that will grow to nine with Horford. Also in the group are Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, Jordan Mickey and Jaylen Brown.
Nick Friedell: Bulls have made it clear throughout league that they expect to get a serious haul in return for any potential deal for Jimmy Butler. Picks and young, controllable assets. They didn't feel a potential Boston deal was strong enough.
David Aldridge: FWIW, Kris Dunn’s camp believes Boston won’t do the deal with Philly, keep the pick and take Dunn #3. But Bulls still in the mix.
Marc Stein: And ESPN sources say that Boston has been holding out all day for a better offer; Chicago's Jimmy Butler has been HIGH on the Celts' list
Adrian Wojnarowski: Chicago, Boston still talking about a Jimmy Butler trade, league sources tell @The Vertical.
The Boston Celtics have been pursuing a number of established veterans in the buildup to Thursday's NBA draft, offering trade packages built around the No. 3 overall pick, according to league sources. But sources told ESPN that the Celtics, to date, have been rebuffed in their efforts to assemble a sufficiently enticing deal to acquire any of these four prime targets: Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward and Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton.
The Bulls, sources say, continue to show little interest in dealing Butler to the Celtics, who previously tried to trade for him before the league's annual deadline in February.
Sources say that the Bulls naturally would demand a significant amount in return to part with Butler, which likely translates to at least one front-line player in addition to a top lottery pick this month.
Mannix's analysis Tuesday night on CSNNE was more sobering. Because they didn't jump into the top two, the Celtics could have a much tougher time targeting a star while keeping most of their core (and/or future draft picks) together. Mannix did say he believes Jimmy Butler could be available for the right price, but cautioned stars won't come cheap. "If Boston does want to get in the mix for one of the premier players that could be available on the trade market, there is going to be a very rich price," Mannix said. "It's going to be that No. 3 overall pick plus a couple of extra players that are going to make it unpalatable for the Celtics to want to swallow that type of deal."
Butler spoke publicly for the first time since Forman said "we have to explore all options" when asked directly if Butler is a franchise centerpiece. The comment irked Butler, although sources said the Bulls have no plans to trade the two-time All-Star. "I didn't do my job, so I guess everything is on the table," Butler said. "If I help us win games and get us in the playoffs and put us in a position to win a championship, he wouldn't say it. So I'm not mad at (Forman). He's doing his job."
A number of names were linked to the Celtics during that time — Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Jahlil Okafor being among the most prominent players identified in the Herald as targets of the club. And then there is the NBA executive who, characterizing the Celts’ hunt, was quoted here as saying, “It’s like they took the All-Star roster and used it as Match.com.” One of those stars whose profile intrigued the Celtics didn’t get to play in that game because of a strained knee. It’s been said that Chicago’s Jimmy Butler would be a good fit here, but multiple sources are telling the Herald that the Celts did, in fact, make a strong move for the 6-foot-7 wing.
“The term I’ve heard with Danny is that he’s looking for a ‘difference maker,’” said one league source. “He’s definitely willing to pay you for the right guy, but he wants someone who can move them to the next level.”
Storyline: Jimmy Butler to Celtics?
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July 29, 2021 | 2:24 am EDT Update