It shouldn't come as any surprise that Danny Ainge talked to the Bulls about Jimmy Butler. By now we know that Ainge probably called every team with a star and at least made inquiries about them. What might be news is the fact that more and more teams are going to at least stop and listen due to the sheer volume of assets the Celtics own.
According to one source that had at least one player who could have been involved in the potential transaction, the Celtics were willing to give up two first-round draft picks this year — the unprotected pick from the Nets and Dallas’ choice, which is protected 1-through-7. There are differing reports on what players were offered, requested and denied and how far the talks got, but the bottom line is that there was no fit for the Celtics and Bulls at this time.
The Chicago Bulls rarely if ever make moves mid-season, so it isn't terribly shocking that they would be gun-shy this year. They are in an odd transition year where they've discovered that they just aren't good enough to compete with the best in the league, yet they still have a young star that they can build around.
While the Bulls have had a disappointing season due to injuries and some struggles on the court, Butler remains the team's centerpiece and franchise player. Unless the team was committing to an outright rebuild, which there's little reason to believe management is interested in, then it would be difficult to trade an All-Star in his prime like Butler without a compelling reason to do so. Good picks in the upcoming draft apparently don't qualify.
However, if they decided that they won't be able to get enough from the current spare parts they've got to offer, they could decide to go full blow-up mode this summer. The Celtics don't just have draft picks: they also have young players who are already respected around the league.
Of course Butler isn't the only option out there. Bulpett reports that the Celtics were looking to pry Paul George away from the Pacers as well.
If nothing else, all this has me excited for what is to come this summer. I don't want to get over-excited because we've seen signals like this in the past and have been disappointed (or at least delayed). Also, whenever we do see the price-tag Danny pays for a star, it is probably going to sting a bit (especially if one or more of our favorite young players is headed out). Still, it could also be a domino effect of trading for a star at the draft and then signing another big name in free agency. We'll see.