8:40pm: Although the Hawks’ offers for George and Butler didn’t feature core players, one source tells Stein (Twitter link) that they included “more” than three first-round picks.
With extra picks on hand for 2018 and 2019, Atlanta theoretically could have offered a 2017 first-round pick, a 2018 first-rounder, and two 2019 first-rounders, and still would’ve adhered to the Ted Stepien rule.
4:43pm: The Hawks weren’t necessarily considered likely to make a big splash today and ultimately didn’t do so, but according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), it wasn’t for lack of trying. Stein reports that the Hawks made “aggressive” draft-pick-centric trade offers for both Paul George and Jimmy Butler.
Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Twitter link) reported shortly after the trade deadline passed that the Hawks had been working on multiple “big deals” that didn’t come together, and these wouldn’t certainly qualify. GM Wes Wilcox had mentioned in the days leading up to the deadline that Atlanta wouldn’t hesitate to use its collection of draft picks to seek out roster upgrades — the Hawks have extra first-round picks in 2018 (from Minnesota) and 2019 (from Cleveland).
Reports on the talks between the Celtics and Bulls suggested that Chicago had wanted to acquire rotation-ready players in any deal for Butler, so a package heavy on draft picks may not have appealed to the club. As for the Pacers, even though team ownership was receptive to trade offers, president Larry Bird was determined to “swat away all pitches,” per Stein.
The Pacers were also said to have turned down a “monster” offer from the Nuggets, though ESPN’s Zach Lowe notes that Denver was reluctant to include Jamal Murray in that package. The Nuggets would have brought in trade assets from a third team in that scenario, per Lowe.
Meanwhile, though Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested this afternoon that the Celtics had been willing to include both Nets’ first-round picks in talks for George and Butler, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (Twitter link) hears that Boston never formally made the 2017 pick available in Butler discussions. Even if the C’s had been willing to include one or both picks for either player, it’s not clear whether the team would have sought to add protection those selections.