Chicago Bulls superstar Jimmy Butler has been linked to the Boston Celtics dating back to the weeks leading up to the trade deadline this past season.
With multiple reports claiming that the Bulls are actively shopping their All-Star to the highest bidder, the Celtics have emerged as one of the frontrunners to land his services due to the plethora of assets that they currently possess.
According to Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago, a deal could have already happened if Boston pulled the trigger.
Apparently, the Bulls went to the Celtics and offered a straight-up swap of Butler for the No. 3 overall pick with nothing else attached. No future picks, no other players involved, no cash considerations; just the player for the pick.
Not only does it seem odd that the Bulls would offer a perennial All-Star talent for the third pick in the draft, but it also seems to be incredibly mysterious as to why the Celtics would decline that deal. Since the point of hoarding assets is to deliver a bonafide star, why wouldn't Danny Ainge pull the trigger?
The possibility remains that Ainge and the Celtics' front office is in love with whatever player they plan on taking with their No. 3 pick in Thursday's draft. Since that player would be playing on his rookie contract during the next four seasons, it would certainly create the opportunity for the Celtics to still add free agent All-Star Gordon Hayward and another piece or two in free agency.
If Butler makes another All-NBA team next season, per NBA rules, he would be eligible for a contract in the $40 million range annually during his next deal. Therefore, it may very well be a financial decision for Boston if that was indeed the proposed offer that they turned down.
But, the real reason as to why Boston passed up on executing the Butler offer might be due to the availability of another young star.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the Celtics have been linked to Kristaps Porzingis following shocking revelations that the New York Knicks are listening to offers for the 7'3" budding superstar.
When asked if Porzingis is untouchable in trade talks earlier this offseason, Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson replied, “Everything has got to be possible and we have to make sure that if people have something to say, we listen to it. We examine it.”
Bondy referenced that one of his sources explained to him that Boston was one of the teams that reached out to the Knicks regarding the Latvian star.
With two more years left on his affordable rookie deal with the option of matching a restricted free agency offer for a third season, the Celtics presumably would benefit from adding Porzingis instead of Butler, thus filling a major need at power forward while avoiding financial issues in the process.
Therefore, declining Chicago's offer for Butler might be a result of Boston's assumption that they can get a deal done for Porzingis, who would likely be a transformative player especially on the defensive end of the floor for the Celtics. Boston struggled to control the glass and lacked rim protectors down the stretch in their playoff run. Porzingis would be an instant fix from that perspective, and that's not even factoring in his incredible and versatile offensive game that will only continue to evolve as he gains experience.
Assuming that the Knicks would be willing to flip Porzingis for the third pick (and possibly another pick) and Boston would also be able to land Hayward in free agency, a roster of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Hayward, Porzingis, and Al Horford in the starting five and Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart as the main contributors off the bench would amount to a very deep and threatening group in the Eastern Conference.
Also, Boston's draft-and-stash picks from last season (Ante Zizic, Guerschon Yabusele and Abdel Nader) could also make the roster and play important rotational roles off the bench as early as next season.
Plus, if the scenario above plays out, Boston would continue to have financial freedom heading into next offseason, when Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley hit unrestricted free agency and will likely demand near-max deals.
The Celtics are in a great position as a franchise regardless of if they are able to make a trade happen or not. But, if they happen to land Porzingis instead of Butler, there's no ceiling on what kind of roster Ainge can build as the team looks to challenge LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers as an established powerhouse not only for next season, but for many years to come.News Now - Sport News