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Celtics Reportedly Called About Jimmy Butler At Trade Deadline

BOSTON – Celtics fans knew Danny Ainge was aiming high at the trade deadline, but it appears he set his sights on one of the top young stars in the NBA last month, according to a new report.

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald revealed the interesting tidbit Thursday morning, noting that one source told him that Boston made a play Jimmy Butler, Chicago's 26-year-old shooting guard and a two-time All-Star, last month. The offer reportedly included Brooklyn's 2016 unprotected first-round pick as well and the Mavericks' 2016 top-7 protected selection.

Additional players would have had been included in any potential deal to make the money work for both sides, but needless to say the Bulls passed on the C's advances.

From Boston's perspective, this is exactly the kind of deal Danny Ainge should be targeting in the upcoming months. Butler is a top-20 player in the league and he just signed a five-year extension before the start of the season with the Bulls, a contract that will be a terrific value with the rising salary cap on the horizon this summer.

The Bulls are in a downward spiral in their first season under new coach Fred Hoiberg, ravaged by both injuries and declining veterans. They currently have fallen out of the playoff picture for the time being and there are few promising young pieces on the roster (outside of Butler) that suggest this decline is just a blip on the radar.

With that said, Butler's presence on the roster is a huge chip for Chicago's future. He's a big building block for them and under no circumstances would the Bulls be looking to trade him away for a collection of lottery tickets in the form of draft picks.

The Celtics have enough assets to get any team (including the Bulls) to at least listen out to their offer, but even several Brooklyn picks and a couple young players (Smart, Bradley, etc.) might not be enough to pry away an emerging young star from Chicago.

The question for Ainge now as we head towards the summer is how many of his assets would he sacrifice for a star like Butler? Boston's front office has kept a nicely stocked cabinet of trade chips throughout the past couple seasons, but they won't want to risk using them all on one piece if they don't need to.

The good news for Ainge is that the stock of nearly every piece on Boston's roster has been rising in recent months as the team has rolled off 18 wins in their last 24 games. If that trend continues, the Celtics won't have to sell the entire farm for a player like Butler.

The guess here is Butler still won't be attainable this summer, but Ainge will be ready to strike for a player of a similar ilk, if and when he becomes available.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter@CelticsHub.

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