Several teams were losers from the results of the NBA draft lottery, including the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls had one of the most sought-after star players in Jimmy Butler, and they failed to deal him at the NBA trade deadline. Adding insult to injury, the Bulls did not make a ripple in the playoffs, losing to the Boston Celtics in six games. It’s significance: the Celtics have been a long-rumored trade partner for the Bulls if they were to move Butler.
The rumors of the Chicago Bulls entertaining offers from the Boston Celtics for Jimmy Butler grew on the night of the NBA draft. One of the Bulls’ likely sticking points was the draft pick the Celtics were to receive from the Brooklyn Nets. That pick would turn out to be the top overall pick of this summer’s draft (courtesy of the Boston Herald).
Because it is the No. 1 pick, there might be some reluctance on the Celtics part when it comes to making a deal. There is no clear-cut top player in the upcoming draft. Arguments could be made for Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Jackson. If the Celtics do not see a player in return who can provide an equivalent to the upside of the top three players in the draft, nothing will happen.
Any player who the Celtics would consider swapping the No. 1 pick for has to be a top 15 talent who can get them over the hump. They also have to be on a cost-friendly type of contract.
Considering the Celtics’ desires, there are only a handful of players who fit the criteria — Jimmy Butler, Kristaps Porzingis, Paul George, and Blake Griffin. There are potential hitches that come with the Celtics targeting either player, with all roads possibly leading back to the Chicago Bulls.
In the case of Paul George, he is entering the last year of his contract and has basically gone on record to say that his preference is to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. Would the Boston Celtics consider dealing the first overall pick for a player who could leave a year later?
Blake Griffin is expected to use his player option this summer. He could be acquired in a sign-and-trade, but it would take a couple of weeks after the draft for that to happen.
Kristaps Porzingis would be an excellent fit for the Celtics with his inside-outside game. If the New York Knicks are willing to trade him, there could be a match. It would come down to whether the Knicks are willing to parts ways with the one sure thing that they have as a player, versus building around him.
After considering those prior scenarios, the Chicago Bulls come back into play with Jimmy Butler. The rumors that the Bulls will listen to offers (courtesy of CSN New England) for Jimmy Butler have been consistent for nearly a year. It would take a huge haul for the Bulls to pull the trigger on a Jimmy Butler trade, which is why nothing has happened to date. The Chicago Bulls may be content with staying in neutral for the time being. Unfortunately, doing so comes at a terrible price.
Few people expect the Bulls to become a true contender next season, but the roster might just be good enough to sneak into the playoffs once again. Meanwhile, the trade stock for Jimmy Butler will begin to go into a decline very soon.
If the Bulls truly wanted to rebuild, this past season was the time to do it. The Boston Celtics may or may not have offered what was guaranteed to be a lottery pick. If so, for the pick to turn into the No. 1 overall is heartbreaking.
The Chicago Bulls are wise to not simply give Butler away, but if the plan is to eventually compete for an NBA championship, they are at the minimum of three years away. By that time, Jimmy Butler could opt out of his contract, leaving the Chicago Bulls with a bag of nothing. No Jimmy Butler, no division banners to hang in the rafters, and no dynamic young players on the roster ready to knock off an aged LeBron James. And all for what, to sell tickets that would already be sold?
Now that the Boston Celtics know they will be picking first, they are in the driver’s seat regarding any trades. Somehow, they will eventually come to the Chicago Bulls, who may be too short-sighted to see a similar path which worked to perfection for the Celtics. Which team will come out on top, and which team will be left with a bag of nothing?
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]