During tonight’s nationally televised game in Chicago, the Boston Celtics may get one last look at Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler, a player whom they should aggressively pursue before next week’s trading deadline. Between the assets the Celtics have control over, the Bulls’ disarray, and the Celtics’ recent hot streak, a trade sending Jimmy Butler to Beantown simply makes too much sense for it not to happen.
The Boston Celtics Should Trade for Jimmy Butler
Why Boston Needs Butler
The Celtics have been on fire as of late, winning 11 of their past 12 games. Isaiah Thomas has been at the forefront of the Celtics success; his scoring average is up to 29.9 points per game, second in the NBA behind only Russell Westbrook. With the Raptors reeling and Kevin Love out with an injury, the Celtics have a golden opportunity that they must take advantage of.
Even though the Celtics are just 2.5 games out of the top seed in the Eastern Conference, there are plenty of reasons why it’s necessary to make a move at the deadline. For starters, the Cavaliers should still be considered the relatively heavy favorites in the East. LeBron James has won the Eastern Conference the past six years, and once this team finally reaches its potential with an effective Kyle Korver and a healthy J.R. Smith and Kevin Love, they should be extremely tough to beat. Factor in the Wizards’ surprising emergence (they’ve won 14 of their past 16 and currently sit in third place) and Toronto’s trade for Serge Ibaka, and it’s clear that the Celtics need to be aggressive at the deadline to keep up.
The acquisition of Al Horford last off-season was supposed to be the final piece to the puzzle in Boston, but Horford’s impact hasn’t been felt as much as the Celtics expected. Sure, he’s having a solid year, but it seems as if Horford may have reached his athletic peak the past few years with Atlanta. Despite Horford’s presence and Thomas’ emergence as a borderline elite player (is it too soon?), the Celtics need one more player, and Jimmy Butler is the perfect fit for Boston.
What Butler Can Bring to the Celtics
Butler will add even more physicality defensively on the perimeter to the Celtics. By joining Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder, Butler could turn a slightly above average defensive team into an excellent defensive team. On offense, Butler’s playmaking, shooting, and size should fit right in to Brad Stevens‘ system, which is based off passing, player movement, and shooting. He could take some of the ease off of Isaiah Thomas, creating more open shots for everybody.
The Bulls Need to Make a Change
Despite currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 27-29, the Chicago Bulls need to shake up the roster. Last off-season’s plan of adding Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo has not panned out as expected, and the roster doesn’t have much young talent outside of its recent draft picks and Jimmy Butler. The Celtics definitely have a plethora of young talent and assets to offer, and few teams should be in such high demand of young assets as the Bulls are.
What the Celtics Have to Offer (Hint: A LOT)
The Celtics own the Brooklyn Nets 2017 and 2018 first round picks, their own 2018 and 2019 first round picks, and the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies 2019 first round picks. Considering their roster already consists of many young players who have been drafted in recent years (Jaylen Brown, James Young, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, etc.) there’s no way that the roster has enough room for all of these draft picks. Not only does trading a few of them make sense, but it may be inevitable.
So the Celtics have the trade pieces, and the Bulls need the trade pieces, so what’s the holdup? Well for starters, parting with a player of Jimmy Butler’s caliber and fully committing to a rebuild is a tough pill to swallow, especially for a franchise accustomed to winning like the Bulls. They very well may decide to keep Butler, even though that’s probably the wrong decision. Also, Boston may be hesitant to part with either of the Nets picks over the next two years, both of which are bound to be top four selections. Those draft picks are likely just as difficult to part with as it is for Chicago to get rid of Butler.
To make the salaries match up and the trade go through, Boston would have to throw in a player like Amir Johnson. Seems like no big deal, but then again the Celtics are already light on rebounding and frontcourt physicality. Maybe send a few young players to Chicago so that Robin Lopez could be included in the deal? Maybe find a third team? There are a few kinks to work out, but at the end of the day a trade sending Jimmy Butler to the Boston Celtics makes far too much sense for it not to happen.
CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 10: Jimmy Butler of Chicago Bulls in action during the NBA match between Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls on December 10, 2016 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bilgin S. amaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)