Danny Ainge might be just getting started.
The Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations made a big splash Monday, trading the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the No. 3 selection and a future first-round choice. But Ainge apparently wants to use that No. 3 pick in a trade with the Chicago Bulls to acquire All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, Stephen A. Smith reported on air Monday during ESPN’s “First Take.”
According to Smith, the Bulls actually were willing to send Butler to the Sixers in a trade involving No. 3 pick. But Philly, which apparently is very high on Washington guard Markelle Fultz, turned down the deal, leaving the door wide open for the C’s if they want to make a similar move for Butler, per Smith.
“Boston and Philadelphia obviously were willing to swap picks, and as a result, the Boston Celtics are planning on acquiring Jimmy Butler,” Smith said. “They don’t know if they’ll be able to, but their hope is that they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick, get themselves Jimmy Butler, go into free agency, get (Utah Jazz forward) Gordon Hayward, and then combine Butler with Hayward, keeping Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley and those boys in tow, and making a legitimate run at the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown, knowing that they then get to come back the following year and likely get another first-round pick (in the 2018 NBA Draft) on top of the one that they will have, etc., etc.
“So that’s their belief right now. For the Boston Celtics, the No. 3 pick, worst-case scenario is that they find themselves in a position to draft somebody like a Josh Jackson out of Kansas. But the hope is that they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick to get Jimmy Butler.”
That’s quite the tantalizing plan on paper, as it would make Boston a legitimate title contender without mortgaging its future. (The Celtics could have as many as three first-round picks in the 2018 draft after their trade with Philly.) Of course, Ainge would need to do some serious maneuvering to get Butler and Hayward on the same roster, and potential deals for Butler have fallen through in the past. But it looks like the C’s have another realistic shot at landing the 27-year-old star.
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