NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Reports: Trade talks for Butler fizzle on Draft night — On Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls dealt former MVP and hometown hero Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks. On Thursday night, the Bulls held the No. 14 pick in the NBA Draft and as the night unfolded, rumors began to circulate that the Bulls were looking to trade their lone remaining star, Jimmy Butler, to perhaps the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ultimately, Butler wasn’t dealt and remains in Chicago, but K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune details why that’s the case (and some of the deals Chicago was offered):
The Bulls held advanced discussions with the Celtics centered on Butler and the No. 3 pick. One proposal featured Avery Bradley, a source said. Another involved Jae Crowder, a second source said. Other pieces would have been included.
But the Celtics have a reputation around the league of trying to win trades, and the overall package kept changing and never met the Bulls’ liking, sources said. Management understands the talent and value of Butler. And the Bulls ultimately liked the package they received from the Knicks for Rose more than the package offered for Butler.
Butler is on a favorable deal in the age of the rising salary cap. And the Bulls appreciate his two-way talents and hard work ethic, which is why the internal debate proved so engaging. Talks with the Timberwolves, who selected Dunn at No. 5 after the Celtics passed on him, stalled when they offered Ricky Rubio and the No. 5 pick, sources said.
“We like Jimmy Butler,” Forman said. “We didn’t shop Jimmy Butler.”
In a scene reminiscent of Elton Brand visiting the Berto Center in 2001 after Jerry Krause traded him to the Clippers for the draft rights to Tyson Chandler, Butler stopped by the Advocate Center for a workout. He was in an area off limits to reporters.
Timberwolves coach and President Tom Thibodeau told reporters in Minnesota he drafted Dunn to keep him.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Timberwolves drafted Dunn, after the Providence guard unexpectedly lasted until the fifth pick, then pushed hard to see whether they could hammer out a trade with the Bulls, who are also known to be big fans of Dunn.
But the Bulls, sources say, ultimately decided not to go ahead with a deal in which they’d be forced to surrender Butler just one day after completing a blockbuster trade with New York that sent Derrick Rose to the Knicks.
Butler was actually spotted at the Bulls’ facility Thursday evening, a source told ESPN.com, but Bulls general manager Gar Forman said after the draft that he didn’t even know Butler was in the building and tried to cool off trade speculation regarding the two-time All-Star.
“Jimmy’s in and out of the building all the time when he’s in town,” Forman said, “During the draft, we started getting some texts and saw something on TV that we were in heated talks with somebody. I don’t know what it was saying. We were in no talks with anybody. There was no discussion during the entire draft this evening as far as Jimmy Butler was concerned.”
Butler rubbed teammates and front-office personnel the wrong way last season when he tried to take a more vocal leadership role within the locker room. But Forman, in a display of semantic gymnastics, held to the fact that the Bulls weren’t actively shopping Butler.
“We have never made a call in regards to Jimmy Butler,” Forman said. “We’ve talked about, we value Jimmy Butler, we’re very happy to have Jimmy Butler. We’ve got a phenomenal basketball player who was an All-Star and All-NBA defender, is still young. Obviously we’ve got him under contract long-term, those are all positive. He, again, is what we want to be. We’ve said this all along. We like Jimmy Butler, we did not shop Jimmy Butler. Did we receive calls? Of course we did, and that’s our job to listen to calls. We get calls on a lot of our players, and that’s stuff that happens all throughout the league.”
“You’ve got to keep an open mind,” Forman said in regard to a potential future Butler deal. “I think [Bulls executive vice president] John Paxson said it best when we met [with the media] in [April]. He was only around one guy in an 11-year career that was untradable, and that was Michael Jordan. I mean, you’re always going to listen, but we value — and I’ve said this — we value Jimmy. We appreciate Jimmy. We think Jimmy is a heck of a basketball player. We love his work ethic. And for us to ever consider anything, it would have to be something that just absolutely knocked our socks off.”
No. 2: Ultimately, Celtics make no deals on Draft night — The Boston Celtics had a bevy of Draft picks with which to bargain and have a favorable salary cap situation as well. That’s the case for them not just in the 2016 Draft, but in many drafts going forward. But for the Celtics fans were hoping for a mega-trade, last night was a disappointment as Boston ended up using all eight of its Draft picks to stock its roster. Where the team goes from here is anyone’s guess, but Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com tries to make sense of it all:
Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck managed to get to the stage quickly enough on Thursday night after his team drafted Jaylen Brown with the third pick in the 2016 NBA draft that the angry mob in front of him didn’t have time to procure any pitchforks and torches.
The season-ticket holders and guests who filled TD Garden had arrived with lofty expectations and were worked into a full lather amid reports that the Celtics were exploring a variety of trades that might have secured more known talent. So when Boston’s turn on the clock ended with the team picking Brown — an intriguing but raw teenager who had an underwhelming freshman season at California — fans booed as Grousbeck started to explain the selection.
“Fourteen years, that’s probably the worst [reception] I’ve gotten,” Grousbeck said. “But I’ll view this as people really care.”
Danny Ainge admitted that there were small sequences of chaos inside Boston’s war room as the team tried to balance the incoming trade calls with making sure it was ready for the rapid succession of picks.
“I think that, overall, our staff did great. We regrouped, called a 20[-second timeout],” Ainge joked. “We had two 20s. We used one quick and we got it together.”
The optimistic, green, Kool-Aid-chugging view is this: A 48-win team with one of the league’s best young coaches added a top-three pick; utilized a pair of first-round selections on overseas stashes that might help develop talent for down the road; added another future first-round pick to its draft treasure chest; and grabbed some intriguing second-round players who could compete for depth spots this summer.
The not-so-optimistic view, one that left Celtics fans grumbling after the Brown pick, is that, on a day when the Eastern Conference rival Orlando Magic landed rim-protecting big man Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers landed Thaddeus Young at reasonable prices, the Celtics stood pat and settled for the less glitzy route of simply making their picks.
“We had a lot of discussion about even trading [the No. 3] pick and trading down in the draft and trading for future picks and so forth,” Ainge said. “Ultimately, there wasn’t anything to our liking. We grew very fond of Jaylen. He’s a great kid — 19 years old who has a man’s body, great athleticism, sort of a vogue, new type of player in the NBA, of the versatile players, the versatile wings, can play multiple positions defensively. And we think he has a lot of upside, but we think he’s a 19-year-old kid that can get on the court and play with the big boys right out of the gate.”
After facing the team’s impatient fans, Grousbeck was more staunch in his assurance that no reasonable trade offer existed for Boston.
“In terms of trades, we weren’t even close to any of the offers today,” Grousbeck said. “None of them were even in the mix. So that’s just the way it is. If they were close, we might have stretched. We didn’t feel anything was close, and we would give counteroffers, and I didn’t feel it was close.
“I’ve been doing deals one way or another since I think 1986, 30 years — not sports deals necessarily, but just making agreements with people. And this was not a day to make a deal. This was not the right thing in our view for the Boston Celtics to make any of these deals, so we didn’t. And we’re very happy to build with a piece — and maybe an important piece — Jaylen Brown.”
Ainge was asked if there was any frustration in not being able to find a more proven player via trade.
“Well, we’ll see. Time will tell. [Brown is] not a cornerstone today. I would never put any pressure on a kid that young, but listen, that’s how cornerstone players are made,” Ainge said. “There are so many guys as you look all around the league, nobody on draft night knew what they were. We’ll see. Time will tell.”
Ainge has pleaded for patience throughout this building process and did so again after Thursday’s draft.
“There was a lot of discussion and no deals. It was just that simple,” Ainge said. “We pulled away from some; they pulled away from some. I don’t think it was a lack of value [with the No. 3 pick]. But to find trade partners in those kind of deals, it has to be good for both teams. We just didn’t find one. I’m confident we are moving in the right direction. We still have free agency and a lot of money to spend in the free-agent market to still build our team.”
No. 3: Magic fill need with Ibaka trade; Thunder get future flexibility, depth — The biggest trade of Draft night happened early on as the Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder essentially swapped Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka (and some others). Some see this trade as a definite win for the Thunder as it frees up minutes for others in their lineup and gives the team cap flexibility. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel notes, though, that the Magic came out pretty good in the deal, too, with Ibaka:
The blocked shot is back for the first time since Dwight Howard left — and so are the Magic, providing they stay hot this summer at the transaction window.
The Magic filled their largest offseason need Thursday night, acquiring power forward Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder during an NBA Draft stunner.
They found a bodyguard for center Nik Vucevic, a sergeant-at-arms, er, Serge-ant.
The last thing the Magic’s daycare needed was another kid; they desperately needed a veteran. They did one better, landing a veteran from a contender who can help a laughable defense and lead a locker room.
Does it matter after all this losing? The Magic gave up starting shooting guard Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the 11th pick (power forward Domantas Sabonis).
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Miss one of the trades on Draft night? We’ve got ’em all here for you … Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins didn’t seem to be a big fan of the team’s Draft night … New Orleans Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield has ‘no doubt’ his team will be playoff-bound come 2016-17 … Traveling man/Draft prospect Thon Maker is ready to put down roots with the Milwaukee Bucks … You thought Cleveland’s celebration for LeBron James was something? The Akron one was even bigger …