According to Smith, the Bulls pitched the idea to the Sixers when they owned the pick, but gained little traction. Now, with Philadelphia swapping places with Boston, they appear to have found a more willing partner. The Celtics have been rumored to have an interest in Butler for quite some time, and would likely be willing to part with the pick to land him.
Smith was light on details, and its not clear exactly what else Boston might have to offer up to pry Butler away from Chicago. Their asking price at the trade deadline was too steep for Danny Ainge’s liking, and allegedly included a request for multiple picks and at least two rotation players. If the Celtics can manage to only surrender this year’s draft pick, however, an agreement may be far more palatable.
Smith indicated that Boston also plans to continue its pursuit of free agent Gordon Hayward, the market’s biggest name. Pairing Hayward and Butler with the rest of the Celtics current core would make for a formidable opponent to the Cleveland Cavaliers and may even given Boston a puncher’s chance in a series against the Golden State Warriors.
If they manage to hang on to all of next year’s draft picks, the Celtics are likely to be holding multiple high-lottery selections in one year’s time. Should Ainge manage that feat, and bring in both Butler and Hayward, he will deserve his own holiday in the city of Boston. Even if the Celtics need to pony up both the picks they landed from the Sixers, they’ll be in a position of great strength. Nabbing two star-level players while keeping the 2018 Brooklyn pick would be a roster-building masterpiece.
None of this is guaranteed, however, and it would be surprising if the Celtics didn’t have to give up more assets beyond just this year’s pick to get Butler. How deftly Ainge manages these trade talks, and any other offseason transactions, will have a massive influence on the future of the franchise.