3:57pm: Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link) agrees that the Bulls’ asking price for Butler remains high, but notes that the Timberwolves have “assets and interest,” adding that Minnesota and Chicago made preliminary contact this week. The Wolves were also linked to Butler around the time of last year’s draft.
Meanwhile, the Suns are another team to watch if Chicago is willing to move Butler, tweets K.C. Johnson.
12:18pm: The Celtics’ impending acquisition of yet another future first-round pick has increased speculation that Danny Ainge will make a push for a star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George in the coming days. However, that talk is “based more on speculation than reality” when it comes to Butler, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, who cites three executives who don’t believe the Bulls forward is going anywhere this week.
Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times expresses a similar sentiment in his latest piece, writing that sources say the Bulls’ asking price for Butler is still “almost insurmountable,” and is unlikely to drop by Thursday. People around the Bulls aren’t even convinced that Ainge will come calling on Chicago before the draft, sources tell Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.
As Johnson details, the Celtics and Bulls discussed Butler at the trade deadline and around the time of last year’s draft, but February’s discussions were less serious than the talks in 2016. The Bulls asked for at least three – and possibly four – assets from the Celtics, and didn’t want to accept top-one protection on Boston’s 2017 first-round pick, according to Johnson.
While it’s possible that the Bulls’ position on Butler could change at some point, perhaps even later this week, there’s a belief around the league and within the Bulls organization that the Celtics plan to use the third overall pick in this year’s draft and then pursue Gordon Hayward in free agency. If Boston wants to make a blockbuster trade, the team would still have plenty of assets to pursue a deal after the free agent period, with or without Hayward.