Jimmy Butler May Go Somewhere, but it Won’t Be to the Celtics

The Chicago Bulls, like it or not, are working the graveyard shift in no man’s land. One day after the #NBADraftLottery, they find themselves smack dab in the middle of the broad NBA picture. Not even close to good enough to contend in an Eastern Conference that has been ruled by The King; let alone any team out in the Wild West. They are the mean, median and mode of the NBA. Their mediocre play is directly correlated to their mediocre coach shuffling deck chairs on a sinking boat.

Titanic 2: #GarPaxson It In.

Now, that’s not to say the Bulls don’t have a life boat to get out of all of this alive. While I understand the FO’s hesitation to dive head first into the murky rebuild waters (as they are cold, darkand full of terrors), day by day they seem to offer a little more safety than the boat that is three-quarters of the way under water already.

But for that to happen, there needs to be suitors willing to call for Jimmy Butler(The Bulls won’t DARE get caught with their pants down by initiating such a trade. Too much negative pub could happen for them.). Suitors that have the necessary combination of draft picks and “young and athletic” talent that Gar Forman and John Paxson “supposedly” want.

While the perfect partner SEEMS like the Boston Celtics (especially after LeBron James and the rested Cavaliers shut down IT like he famously did against Derrick Rose a few season ago in the coming week), it wont happen.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Bulls fans. But it’s a fact.

It’s hard to envision Danny Ainge (who reportedly wanted protections on their now #1 pick during this past off season and near the trade deadline) willingly giving that away now.

A trade for Jimmy Butler just doesn’t make sense for a team that are in the situation the C’s are in.

Isaiah Thomas is on the books for one more season at a lucrative six million dollar deal (and he seems hungry for money on his next contract). Horford (on a max deal), Jae Crowder (on a will play for peanuts deal) and Jaylen Brown (with two club options in 18–19 and 19–20) are all on the books until 2019–20.

That’s really about it.

You know that “cap flexibility” that GarPax are always talking about? The Celtics have it too.

Open up the lens of this green picture and it’s easy to see the forest through the trees.

By adding the overall consensus top pick in Markelle Fultz to a team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals (so far), they get one more year to see if IT is worth a near max contract with his contingency plan standing side-by-side with him every day. If they so choose to bring him back, the Celtics should STILL have the money necessary to bring in their golden goose, Gordon Hayward, for the 2018–19 season (The Celtics only have 47 million on the books with a cap that will eclipse 100 million heading into the Hayward free agency). That gives them a lethal Fultz/IT/Hayward/Crowder/Horford crunch time lineup with Brown and Marcus Smart (no way they let him go) on the bench all peaking in the East as James’ star starts to decline.

All of that goes away if the Celtics were to trade for Jimmy Butler. Ainge would have to send some sort of package of Brown/Crowder/Smart with the first overall pick in one of the more loaded drafts in the last ten years. That leaves Boston with IT (near max), Butler (just short of 20 million per year with a player option for the 2019–20 season) and Horford (maxed out) until 2020–21.

You also have to take into consideration that there’s a possibility that IT doesn’t resign after next year. Maybe he doesn’t vibe well with Butler (don’t tell me that’s not on the table) or maybe the money that he thinks he deserves isn’t there. What then? Your young and cheap assets are gone. Horford is another year older. IT is playing with the Greek Freak on a max contract. And Butler might be looking ahead to that moment when he’ll finally be hanging out with Mark Wahlberg and Paul George permanently in LA.

The risk of it all is too great for Ainge and the Celtics. Stick with what you know. Take Fultz. Add him to the fold. Bring in Hayward. And leave Chicago frantically paddling their boat towards Philadelphia or Phoenix.

-Jerry Scherwin

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