It looks as though Danny Ainge is playing a game of deadline chicken with the Bulls and Pacers.
It could just be deadline hyperbole, and folks getting caught up in the excitement of deadline, but it seems as though the Celtics started with lowball offers for both Jimmy Butler and Paul George on Thursday morning, and as the clock went past noon, those offers increased and caught the ears of John Paxson and Larry Bird.
Expect Ainge to give in on the Bulls’ request for Jae Crowder in the next few hours, as that is reportedly the hang up in a Boston deal for the Bulls’ coveted swingman.
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“I think, the main sticking point there is that (Ainge) just does not want to give up Jae Crowder in a deal, and that’s the guy that Chicago’s insisting on right now in any package for Jimmy Butler,” NBA.com’s David Aldridge said on NBATV this morning. “Chicago, I think rightly, are saying, ‘You want our best player, we’re not just going to do it for picks. We’re not just going to take guys that you’re not gonna keep on your roster. We want a guy that’s going to be able to grow with us along with high picks.”
Bird has already gotten his former Celtic teammate In Ainge to up the stakes in George talks today. The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted today, “Sources Boston, Indy had preliminary talk on Paul George, but there won’t be a real dialogue until/unless C’s introduce Nets pick into the deal.”
Eight minutes later, Wojnarowski tweeted, “Update on Boston, Indy: Boston hasn’t met Indiana’s asking price on Paul George, but Nets pick has entered conversation now, sources say.”
Ainge has always been a go big or go home GM, so it’s entirely possible that the Celtics boss is looking to acquire both Butler AND George today in order to make a legitimate run at title immediately. This would obviously require the Celtics to trade off both Nets picks, their own future first round picks, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and others.
If the Celtics do make deals today, expect whoppers or absolutely nothing.