Jimmy Butler almost became a member of the Boston Celtics on draft night. Kind of. Sort of. Maybe.
Look, we’re not sure, okay? But the talks we heard about between the Chicago Bulls and Celtics were real.
Equally real, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, was Chicago’s interest in Boston’s offer:
Jimmy Butler’s ascension from All-Star status to early-season most valuable player buzz has justified the Bulls’ decision to avoid a total rebuild.
But make no mistake: Following the Derrick Rose trade, the internal draft-night debate on whether to trade Butler to the Celtics was real. And the Bulls, according to multiple sources at the time, held advanced discussions with the Celtics centered on Butler and the No. 3 overall pick.
If the Bulls had pulled the trigger, they would’ve drafted Providence point guard Kris Dunn, who went to Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves at No. 5. Despite being slotted at No. 14, where they ultimately selected Denzel Valentine, the Bulls met with Dunn in May at the draft combine.
Well, it’s safe to say everything worked out for the Bulls. They aren’t Eastern Conference juggernauts, but they are good enough on both ends of the floor. And in the East, good enough is often better than good enough.
Oh yeah, and Jimmy Butler is having a career year. He’s averaging 25.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 46.4 percent overall, including 35.4 percent three-point range.
Could you imagine how good the Celtics would be with Butler on the roster—assuming, of course, they still signed Al Horford and didn’t need to trade both of Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder to get him?
Actually, don’t. It’s too painful. Because, while the Celtics still have the assets to engage the Bulls this summer should they pivot into a rebuild they’ve thus far avoided, Butler doesn’t look like a guy you sell off to start over.
He’s the type of player you start over with.