BOSTON (CBS) -- It's been fairly quiet on the trade rumor front regarding the Boston Celtics, but that is all going to change in the very near future.
As the February 23 draws closer, the Celtics will likely find themselves mentioned in just about every rumor that trickles out of every corner of the internet. It's the product of Danny Ainge's never-ending search for another star player and his cadre of trade assets, from intriguing young players to his collection of Brooklyn Nets draft picks.
We've heard rumors about Jimmy Butler before, and expect the rumors to start circling around the Chicago Bulls shooting guard again. According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Butler is on the block:
League sources say the team made it known weeks ago through backchannels that shooting guard Jimmy Butler is available for the right price.
Did his recent 52 point game against the Hornets change the team's thinking? Not likely.
League sources say the Bulls have been uncertain about building around Butler even after signing him to a 5 year, $95 million extension.
Bucher notes that the Bulls held off shopping Butler earlier this season when they got off to a good start. Now that they're 18-18 (good for the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference), their front office is a little more open to dealing the two-time All-Star.
Butler would be a fantastic fit on the Celtics and a great building block, but the big crux of the equation is Chicago's asking price. The C's and Bulls were reportedly chatting about a Butler deal on draft night in June, with Chicago's asking price the third and 16th overall picks along with Jae Crowder and an additional starter-level player, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich on Thursday morning (listen to the interview here) that teams have started to call about the 2017 Brooklyn pick. The Celtics own the right to swap picks with the Nets, which is currently in the top lottery spot. He said no deal was imminent, but the inquiries are underway nonetheless.
As with most NBA rumors, there's a good chance Butler stays put. He's signed on a fairly reasonable contract and is averaging 25.2 points per game this season, meaning the price tag in any trade will probably be through the roof. But if Chicago is really intent on dealing their young star, the Celtics will be one of the teams able to make a significant offer.
In any case, get ready for trade rumor season. It's going to be a wild one for the Boston Celtics.
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