The Boston Celtics didn’t trade for Jimmy Butler because it reportedly would have cost them a top pick in the NBA Draft. So Butler went to Minnesota in a draft night swap that surprised many in the NBA world.
But the actual deal Chicago got in trading Butler away wasn’t all that pricey compared to what Boston allegedly was asked to give up. That meant the Celtics were on the defensive on Friday, trying to justify why they didn’t acquire Butler for themselves.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge spoke on Boston radio on Friday and said he thought the Timberwolves gave up “a lot” to acquire Butler’s services.
Considering what it cost Minnesota to acquire Butler—Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the seventh overall pick on Thursday—you could argue both ways on this. And the Bulls including their 16th overall pick in the deal makes that tougher to argue in Ainge’s favor. You could say Ainge is being defensive because perhaps the Bulls lowered their price for other teams. But maybe Ainge is right of LaVine or Dunn can flourish for the Bulls.
He said in another interview that the fortunate position the Celtics are in with draft picks may make teams expect that they will give up more than they want to when it comes time to deal.
“I think there’s some truth in that,” said Ainge. “I think you’re spot on a little bit. I know when I try to do deals with teams, I’m lookin at: ‘I’m going to call that team because they have something I’m really excited about.’
“Yeah, people around the league know the things we have and I think they are asking for some of our prime real estate.”
But does that really influence another general manager when it’s time to wheel and deal?
“I think over the last few trading periods I think it’s been a little bit of a hurdle. Bottom line is we have to do the deals we really believe in. I think our team is on board with the ones we’ve turned down and the ones we’ve pursued longer and think more about it. We’ll just continue to find the right deals.”
Whether that’s the case or not, it certainly meant Boston stayed where they were after they dealt the top pick in the draft to the Sixers. Both sides seem happy with that trade, though many Celtics fans will wonder what could have been with Butler on the roster this fall.