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Atlantic Notes: Butler, Stoudemire, Udrih

The Celtics, who were reportedly looking to make a big splash at this year’s trade deadline, held discussions with the Bulls about acquiring star swingman Jimmy Butler, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald writes. According to Bulpett’s source, the Celtics were willing to give up two first-round draft picks this year — the Nets‘ unprotected pick and Dallas’ first-rounder, which is top-seven protected, as part of a package for Butler. “This is not a case where Chicago was looking to trade Jimmy Butler,” a source involved in the talks told Bulpett. “That would be crazy. But if Boston calls, you have to look at those picks and some of the players they have and at least hear them out. Most times when teams call about your star, you can just dismiss it right away, but you have to think about it with [president of basketball operations Danny] Ainge and the Celtics right now. There’s a lot to go over there with possibilities.

The Celtics are concerned that they will have too many young players on the roster if they retain all their acquired picks, so it is highly likely the team will be active leading up to the draft in its attempts to acquire a star-caliber player, Bulpett adds. “The term I’ve heard with Danny is that he’s looking for a ‘difference maker,’” a league source told the Herald scribe. “He’s definitely willing to pay you for the right guy, but he wants someone who can move them to the next level.” Ainge also checked in with the Pacers regarding Paul George prior to the deadline, Bulpett relays.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire denies that he was talking about former Knicks teammate Carmelo Anthony the other night when he made some pointed comments about his former team, Al Iannazzone of Newsday relays. The big man called Anthony on Sunday to clear the air, Iannazzone notes. “I never mentioned his name once,” Stoudemire told reporters, in reference to his comments. “We’re close friends, family. Our wives are very close friends. He knows I wasn’t talking about him.” When asked about his chat with Stoudemire, Anthony said, “I don’t really want to waste any time on that. What’s understood don’t need to be spoken upon.
  • Beno Udrih cleared waivers from the Heat today, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter link), meaning the Sixers passed on the chance to add him and draw closer to the $63MM salary floor. The Sixers currently have $60,369,349 in guaranteed salary on the books for 2015/16, which is $2,630,651 below the minimum team payroll. Claiming Udrih’s $2,170,465 salary would have brought Philadelphia to within a couple of minimum-salary contracts of the mark, and it would have come at the actual cost of only a fraction of Udrih’s salary, since the Heat have already given him most of his paychecks for the year. The result of Udrih clearing waivers is potentially more damaging to the Heat, who’d reportedly eyed Marcus Thornton and others but can’t sign anyone until April 6th without again going into tax territory, notes salary cap expert Albert Nahmad (on Twitter). It’s more likely the Heat would wait to sign someone until April 7th so they could fill their second open roster spot on the final day of the regular season, tweets Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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