Jimmy Butler and Paul George confirmed trade targets for Celtics
The Boston Celtics and General Manager Danny Ainge decided not to make any noise at the trade deadline this season, however that doesn’t mean they were quiet on the phones.
It’s been three weeks since the trade deadline and there are still reports coming out of some of the trade inquiries Ainge had made. It was reported that Ainge was looking for a difference maker and shopped around for a “difference maker” at the deadline. Evidence of that was when one significant and somewhat surprising report listed Jimmy Butler and Paul George as confirmed targets for Ainge and the Celtics. As unlikely as it would seem that either the Chicago Bulls would trade away Butler or the Indiana Pacers would trade away George, there is always that slight chance it may happen.
“This is not a case where Chicago was looking to trade Jimmy Butler,” a source said. “That would be crazy. But if Boston calls, you have to look at those picks and some of the players they have and at least hear them out. Most times when teams call about your star, you can just dismiss it right away, but you have to think about it with Ainge and the Celtics right now. There’s a lot to go over there with possibilities.” (via Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald)
The Celtics, as of now, have three first round picks – including Brooklyn’s unprotect pick – for this year’s draft as well as an abundance of skilled players, and these factors could help speed up the rebuild of a team if they chose to go that route.
A team like the Pacers trading Paul George and starting a rebuild doesn’t make a lot of sense however. They’re a team that regained their superstar after losing him to a serious injury all of last season, and he began the season shaking off some rust. The team as a whole had to get readjusted to George being back in the lineup as well as the new players that were acquired in the off season. Team chemistry may be a problem but in this case it because they haven’t fully developed it yet not because they’ve lost it. The Pacers still have a few seasons before they really have to worry about rebuilding process.
For teams such as the Chicago Bulls, the Sacramento Kings, and the Atlanta Hawks, trading away all of their assets and starting from scratch is a very real option.
The possibility of The Bulls trading Butler is greater than the Pacers trading George for numerous reasons. The Bulls have slipped from a top team in the Eastern Conference to contending for a playoff spot with the same core of players. Since the second half of last season, there has been growing speculation of how strong the Bulls locker room chemistry really is. The Bulls could be considering a new start with a younger, healthier team. Trading Jimmy Butler along with others would give the Bulls that possibility especially if they received players like Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart to go along with the Brooklyn Nets 2016 pick. Both players are younger and neither has any nagging injuries. They would make up for the loss of Butlers lock down defense as well as some of his offensive output.
The Atlanta Hawks have been a top five team in the Eastern Conference since the 2007-2008 season, but have never made it further than the Eastern Conference Finals one time. They’ve never had a definitive star that they can rely on to take the final shot in a close game or someone who can step up and completely take over a game. Before this season’s trade deadline, there were multiple reports stating that the Hawks were going to blow up their core of Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Paul Millsap. The Celtics came up as one of the potential trade partners for Al Horford. If the Hawks had chosen to blow up their core and restart players like Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Kelly Olynyk, and Jared Sullinger would have fit that bill once again. This trade would have benefited the Celtics by giving them a Center that they have been looking for since Kendrick Perkins was traded.
As for the Sacramento Kings they have been struggling to stay in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. They have a superstar Center in DeMarcus Cousins, but due to poor selections in the draft, trades, and players in free agency they have not given him enough help to consistently win games and reach the playoffs.
They have also had a lot of turn over when it comes to different positions in their front office which added to team chemistry problems. These changes along with three different coaches last season as well as flirting with the idea of firing current Head Coach George Karl, have also added to the chemistry problems the team faces. These problems could eventually become too much for Cousins and he could ask to be traded. Through much of the past off-season up to the trade deadline, there were constant rumors that the Kings were shopping Cousins and the Celtics kept popping up in those reports. As mentioned before the Celtics have the assets to get this trade done. The Kings could start all over with a young player out of college along with a big man such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk. This trade would once again give the Celtics a much needed Center and a superstar that can take over games.
With the trade deadline well in the rearview mirror the Celtics will have to wait until the off season and free agency to make any moves to try to advance to the next level.