DeMarcus Cousins had long been linked to the Celtics in trade rumors, but the C’s seemingly weren’t willing to bite the Boogie bullet this week as Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday night.
It would seem that if the Celtics really wanted Cousins they could have gotten him as New Orleans did not own the amount of quality assets that the C’s currently possess prior to the deal. The Pelicans gave up Buddy Hield (the sixth overall pick in last June’s draft who is averaging 8.6 points per game in his rookie year), Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 first round pick (top three protected) and a 2017 second round pick. The Celtics have this year’s Nets pick to dangle as well as next year’s Nets pick and can offer quality young players like Marcus Smart and/or Jaylen Brown in a potential deal.
Celtics boss Danny Ainge surely must have felt that Cousins wasn’t worth that level of haul, but now the question remains as to whether or not Ainge feels any All-Star level player on the trade block (Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George, New York’s Carmelo Anthony) is worth that price. Butler, George and Anthony are fine players, but it remains to be seen if any of them are on the franchise-altering level of a Kevin Garnett – a player Ainge gave up for five players (one of which was Al Jefferson – thought of as a potential All-Star at the time) and two first round picks.
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As of now, the player the Celtics seem most keen on is Butler.
“The potential of a Boston, Chicago deal for Jimmy Butler would loom over the entire week (ahead of the trade deadline),” The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski said. “These teams have engaged on the potential of this trade, they have not gotten far down the road on it. There still needs to be an alignment within the Bulls organization from ownership to management that they will want to make the decision to enter a full rebuild.
“The fact that the Celtics swap with Brooklyn this year, they have their pick which could potentially be a top-3 pick and they have Brooklyn’s pick outright next year. Either one of those picks, I don’t think Chicago can get both of them, that’s just the beginning point of a deal for the Bulls for Jimmy Butler.”
CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely wrote this past weekend that “Boston loves Butler” but also wrote that “the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them.”
Those are contradicting statements for sure, but there is a lot of hot air this time of year.
To get a true feel of what the Celtics would need to give up for Butler, you have to go back to last summer when the Bulls wanted specific players and one of – if not two of the Nets picks. Chicago wanted Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart specifically back then, but one would think that the Bulls wouldn’t demand Crowder now given that the small forward is a “win-now” type piece. Last summer, Chicago still had ideas that it could rebuild on the fly but management finally seems to be coming around to the thought that the best path to longterm success is to bottom out.
No doubt, Gar Forman and John Paxson will start negotiations with Ainge by asking for both Nets picks (2017 and ‘18). Ainge likely wouldn’t give up both Brooklyn picks if Michael Jordan was on the table, but if a Butler deal goes down, expect the Celtics and Bulls to settle on a package that has one of the Nets picks, one or two future Celtics first round picks and Smart.