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NBA AM: Will Jimmy Butler Be Next?

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With the star-studded events of All-Star Weekend officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to put all of our attention toward the NBA trade deadline, which will be this Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. The DeMarcus Cousins deal is done (and complicated), which now makes Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler the next big name to get attention in the coming week.

Jimmy Butler to Boston Rumor Returns

The Chicago Bulls are a team going nowhere fast, which very likely is why they and the Boston Celtics have reportedly reopened conversations regarding a trade for Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s something that makes sense considering the Bulls’ stagnancy this year and Danny Ainge’s desire to end up on the right side of a major blockbuster, but we’ve been having this conversation about Chicago and Boston for months now.

Despite all that, both teams could use the deal just as much as they both could have used the deal when it was discussed around the draft back in June. At the time, it was structured around the third overall pick in the draft, which would have been Kris Dunn in this instance. Other players would have been involved, but the goal for Chicago would have been rebuilding. Now, even with Dwyane Wade on the roster, that still would be the idea.

In a lot of ways, a trade between these two teams makes even more sense now, but both teams also have their fair share of reservations. Chicago is currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and has just enough talent to make the postseason, but if they trade Butler that likely no longer happens.

Furthermore, it all but guarantees that Wade opts this summer to make the most of his waning years of productivity. He’s not sticking around in Chicago to help raise the team’s younger players, and that means any pipe dream of Wade using his recruitment talents to put together a “Banana Boat” team in Chicago disappears, too.

Boston, meanwhile, has been humming, winning 11 of their last 13 games heading into the break, and while it’s hard to see them seriously contending with Cleveland and Toronto without adding another star player, there also is the possibility that adding another ball dominant player like Butler could screw with the chemistry of the team.

At the end of the day, though, Ainge really wants to land that second superstar to slide in alongside Isaiah Thomas. Butler would fit, and the team could arrange a trade that wouldn’t compromise much of their depth.

Any deal would have to start with at least one of the Brooklyn first-rounders that Boston will get in 2017 and 2018, and with this year’s draft class looking especially strong it would make sense for Chicago to push for the opportunity to draft someone like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson.

Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart have had their names attached to a Butler deal for months, as well, though it’s impossible to know how much talent the Celtics would agree to trade away if they also were sending Chicago the potential first overall pick in this summer’s draft.

The Bulls don’t seem like they want to trade Butler, and frankly they have not been a team in the past to make big deadline moves that weren’t motivated by a desire to cut costs. Blockbuster trades for the sake of actual improvement are rare from Chicago’s front office, but depending on the offer and how that front office views the team’s playoff chances this year and beyond, this might be the year John Paxson and Gar Forman finally pull the trigger on something substantial.

Goodness knows Butler would look sharp in Celtics’ green:

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About Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.