Boston Celtics

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.

Celtics Rumors: Tatum, Jackson, Porzingis, Brown

Following the completion of the Celtics’ trade with the Sixers earlier this week, C’s president Danny Ainge suggested that the player the team drafted at No. 3 would likely be the same player the club would’ve taken at No. 1. Ainge reiterated that point on Thursday night, telling reporters that he felt the draft was “very even” at the top, and would’ve selected Jayson Tatum with the first overall pick (Twitter link).

Josh Jackson was the other prospect considered to be in play for that No. 3 pick, and Ainge admitted that he was upset when the former Kansas forward cancelled his workout with the Celtics. As Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com details, Ainge, Brad Stevens, and Mike Zarren flew out to Sacramento, only to find out that Jackson wouldn’t be working out. Ainge indicated that there may have been something to the idea that Jackson didn’t want to be drafted by Boston.

“Agents and players have all sorts of motivations to get to certain places, as we’ve seen in the past,” Ainge said, per Forsberg. “Remember last year, Kris Dunn didn’t want to come here; we didn’t hold it against him. We felt like we were just taking the player that we wanted [last year]. And I think the same thing this time. I don’t think we were trying to penalize Josh too much, but we didn’t get to see him or talk to him face-to-face.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Asked about the Kristaps Porzingis rumors that swirled around the Celtics this week, Ainge said that he felt they were “a little blown out of proportion” (Twitter link via Forsberg).
  • Ainge suggested there could be “some truth” to the idea that teams ask for more from the Celtics in trades due to the team’s stockpile of assets (link via Scott Souza of The MetroWest Daily News). People around the league know the things that we have and they are asking for some of our prime real estate,” Ainge said. “Over the last few trading periods it’s been a little bit of a hurdle. But the bottom line is we have to do the trades that we believe in.”
  • One player Ainge generally isn’t interested in discussing in trade talks is Jaylen Brown. The team president said on CSNNE that Boston gets the urge to “hang up” when Brown’s name comes up in negotiations (Twitter link via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe).
  • It’s possible that neither of the Celtics’ draft-and-stash prospects will be on the team’s Summer League roster. Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets that Guerschon Yabusele won’t play due to foot surgery, while Ainge said that Ante Zizic has visa issues, raising doubts about his status (Twitter link via Jay King of MassLive.com).

Draft Night Rumors: Holiday, Smith Jr., Butler, Cavs

9:14pm: In response to Amico’s note below, Channing Frye has posted an Instagram message dismissing the idea that he’s planning to retire.

Meanwhile, Mavs president Donnie Nelson also addresses an item below, telling reporters that he thinks the Dennis Smith Jr. pick means the Mavs likely won’t target a point guard in free agency (Twitter link via Damon R. Marx of The Dallas Morning News).

8:28pm: The Mavericks may not be ready to hand their offense over to No. 9 pick Dennis Smith Jr. The team still plans to make a run at Pelicans‘ point guard Jrue Holiday once free agency begins, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. A former All-Star in Philadelphia, Holiday will be seeking a significant raise after making less than $11.3MM this season. The 27-year-old averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists in 67 games.

There’s more news from an eventful draft night:

  • Dallas coach Rick Carlisle offered a different perspective, posts Tim MacMahon on ESPN Now. Before being asked, Carlisle told reporters that he sees Smith as an immediate starter, noting his blend of intelligence, maturity and athleticism. “We believe he’s going to be a tremendous player for us and right away,” he said.
  • Carlisle added that the Mavs definitely preferred Smith over French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who was taken by the Knicks at No. 8. The coach said there was “uproarious” applause in the Dallas draft room when New York’s pick was announced (Twitter link).
  • In negotiations for Jimmy Butler, the Celtics refused to part with their No. 3 pick this year or the Nets‘ pick for 2018, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Butler was shipped to Minnesota in a deal involving the No. 7 pick, and the Celtics may send Jayson Tatum, whom they drafted at No. 3, to Indiana in a trade for Paul George.
  • Cavaliers veterans Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson may retire this offseason, relays Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). If they do, it will reduce the salary commitment in Cleveland and open up two roster spots, giving the new GM some flexibility. Frye, 34, made more than $7.4MM this season, while Jefferson, who turned 37 yesterday, collected a little more than $2.6MM.

Celtics’ Paul George Talks Stalled After Gaining Momentum

8:07pm: Discussions between the Pacers and Celtics on George have stalled for now, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

7:06pm: The Pacers and Celtics are engaged in “serious” discussions about a potential Paul George trade, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). While the sides remain apart on a potential deal, talks have gained momentum, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Celtics used their third overall pick tonight to select Jayson Tatum. If the Pacers and C’s can come to an agreement on a George deal, it’s not clear whether or not Tatum will be involved in the swap.

George is one of the top trade candidates available now that Jimmy Butler is now off the board, with the Bulls having reached an agreement to send him to the Timberwolves. Before finalizing that deal, the Pacers and Wolves discussed a deal involving George, tweets Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis. The Pacers asked for Zach LaVine and more in return, which Minnesota refused, opting for Butler instead.

The Rockets also haven’t given up their pursuit of George, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. I’d expect the Lakers to check back in as well if a deal appears close.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Sixers Make Markelle Fultz Top Pick

Three days after completing a deal for the No. 1 pick, the Sixers used it as expected, taking point guard Markelle Fultz out of Washington.

There was no suspense surrounding the selection, as Philadelphia made its intentions clear from the time trade talks began with the Celtics. Sixers officials didn’t sign off on the deal until they received Fultz’s medical records and brought him in for a visit.

An explosive 6’4″ freshman, Fultz is expected to team with last year’s top pick, Ben Simmons, and center Joel Embiid to form a Big Three for the future in Philadelphia. The addition of Fultz may signal a turnaround after years of losing that began when former GM Sam Hinkie launched The Process in 2013.

Fultz has topped nearly every mock draft since the season began, and the Celtics would have been overwhelming favorites to draft him if they had kept the pick. Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds during his only season with the Huskies and gets near-unanimous approval from NBA scouts.

Philadelphia has four picks remaining, all the in second round, at 36, 39, 46 and 50.

Celtics Not Currently Engaged In Jimmy Butler Talks

Trade discussions involving Jimmy Butler continue to take place, but those talks don’t include the Celtics, and haven’t “for a while,” according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Five Key Offseason Questions: Boston Celtics]

Bulpett’s report doesn’t necessarily mean that the Celtics are out of the Butler sweepstakes entirely — if the Bulls begin to move close to a deal with another team, it’s possible they’d call Boston to see if the C’s want to make another offer. However, at this time, it appears that the Celtics aren’t actively exploring a potential Butler deal.

The Nuggets, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, and Suns are among the teams that have reportedly spoken to the Bulls about Butler. However, since the All-NBA forward still has two years left on his contract and prefers to remain in Chicago, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Chicago ends up not moving him tonight.

Although the Bulls are willing to make a deal if the right offer arises, the offers to this point have been “underwhelming,” sources tell K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Ball, Ntilikina, Bulls, Mavericks

The Lakers are widely expected to take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick after trading D’Angelo Russell on Tuesday, but Ball tells Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports that he hasn’t received a guarantee from the team. Ball worked out twice for L.A., with the second time reportedly at the request of the Lakers after a disappointing showing in the first session. “I think they were both fine,” he said. L.A. is still giving “real consideration” to Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

There’s more news as teams lock in their draft strategies:

  • French point guard Frank Ntilikina held a last-minute workout for the Knicks this morning, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Mavericks, who are also in the market for a point guard, talked to the Timberwolves about trading up from the ninth pick to the seventh to have a shot at Ntilikina, but talks collapsed because of Minnesota’s high asking price. The Wolves would prefer to use that pick as part of a package to get Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Today’s workout was conducted by former Knicks player developmental coach Chris Brickley, who tutored Ntilikina last summer.
  • If the Bulls do move Butler, they will likely target Fox or Josh Jackson, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Celtics are also interested in the seventh pick and have spoken to the Wolves about a possible deal, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Boston may want an extra draft choice to sweeten its offer to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Responding to Damian Lillard‘s request for a better supporting cast, the Trail Blazers are trying to acquire a lottery pick, tweets Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Portland’s priority in any deal is getting rid of a bad contract, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Blazers made an offer for Paul George, but it “doesn’t move the needle” for the Pacers, relays Jason Quick of CSNNW (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors, who hold the No. 23 pick, are gauging interest around the league and are willing to trade down, according to Scotto (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets, who have the 13th selection, are another team that may try to move down, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He notes that Denver has a history of making draft-night trades.
  • Several teams have expressed an interest in moving into the late part of the lottery, according to Givony (Twitter link). He lists the Lakers, Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Rockets as teams that might try to acquire a pick in the 10-14 range.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis

3:23pm: The Celtics and Knicks aren’t engaged in ongoing talks about a Porzingis deal, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, who says the teams exchanged offers this morning and haven’t been back in contact. Sources familiar with the negotiations are calling Jackson’s demands “ridiculous,” McMenamin posted on ESPN Now. He adds that the Celtics are now expected to keep the No. 3 pick and not try to trade down.

2:25pm: The Celtics are making a strong pitch for Kristaps Porzingis and are trying to assemble a package that the Knicks will accept, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Boston has offered the No. 3 selection, an unidentified player and an additional lottery pick that the Celtics are confident they can trade for tonight, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman posts on ESPN Now that the sides are not close to a deal.

There’s more today on the Porzingis front:

  • Knicks president Phil Jackson wants the Celtics to give up tonight’s No. 3 pick, next year’s unprotected Nets pick, Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder, relays Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Boston believes that’s too much to ask, but is willing to do the deal if it involves just one of the draft picks, according to Isola. New York wants Kansas forward Josh Jackson, who is expected to still be on the board at No. 3. Phil Jackson is also a fan of Crowder and regrets not picking him up from Dallas in the Tyson Chandler deal three years ago. Brown, the third overall selection in 2016, has a close relationship with former Knicks president Isaiah Thomas.
  • Jackson’s demand was confirmed to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) by another source, who added, “[Phil Jackson] is just messing with things.
  • Ramona Shelburne posts on ESPN Now that Jackson won’t settle for anything less than his demand. “He’s dug in,” a Knicks source told her. “If he doesn’t get exactly what he wants, there will be no [Porzingis] trade.”
  • The Celtics aren’t the only team trying to pry Porzingis away from New York, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
  • One of those teams is the Suns, who have talked to the Knicks about a trade involving the No. 4 pick. TNT’s David Aldridge says the teams aren’t close to a deal, although that could always change (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Jackson, George, Porzingis, Kanter

Numerous teams are trying to obtain a top-4 pick in order to select Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. With the Sixers having obtained the top overall pick to select Markelle Fultz, that means a blockbuster deal involving the Lakers, Celtics or Suns could be on the horizon. It also strongly suggests that the Celtics have settled on Duke forward Jayson Tatum as their preferred choice, since Jackson wouldn’t be available at No. 4 if Boston wants him.

Here are some of other trade rumors floating around as the draft approaches:

  • There is a growing sense that unless the Pacers get a suitable offer for Paul George today, President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard will wait until next month to re-engage talks regarding the 2018 free agent, according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler. However, the latest projected salary cap of $99MM could motivate Indiana and the Lakers to get a deal done today, as Kyler details. The Spurs and Blazers are also making a run at George, Kyler adds in another tweet.
  • The Knicks believe Kristaps Porzingis would have been the top selection in today’s draft and next year’s draft and desire a package of picks that reflect his value, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. Team President Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday he is listening to offers for the disgruntled big man. Talks between the Knicks and Suns have not gained any traction because Phoenix is unwilling to part with shooting guard Devin Booker, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The Thunder could deal center Enes Kanter as early as today, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman speculates. The team has enough big men to take over his minutes, though Kanter is the most offensively-gifted frontcourt player they have, Carlson continues. It makes sense to obtain more shooters and veterans to help out Russell Westbrook, which makes Kanter expendable, Carlson adds. Kanter will make approximately $17.9MM next season and holds an $18.6MM player option on the final year of his contract next summer.

Ainge Keeping Everyone Guessing On No. 3 Pick

  • The Sixers are trying to obtain another first-rounder in the bottom third of the draft by packaging the No. 36 and No. 39 overall picks in the second round, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo said earlier this week he was still seeking another first-round pick even after the trade with the Celtics for the No. 1 overall pick was finalized.
  • Celtics GM Danny Ainge has executives around the league guessing as to what he’ll do with the No. 3 pick, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. Most believe that he’ll pick Kansas swingman Josh Jackson or Duke forward Jayson Tatum, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility he’ll pull off a shocker and draft Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac or North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith Jr. Forsberg continues. He may trade down a couple of spots to land one of the latter two players, Forsberg adds.
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