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Why Didn’t the Celtics Further Pursue Jimmy Butler?

Timing and Personality are Reported Factors

NBA: Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN writer Zach Lowe, in his article focusing on the Celtics-Cavaliers trade standoff, offers insight on why the Celtics and the Chicago Bulls couldn’t agree upon a trade involving Jimmy Butler this summer.

The "why not Butler and George?" questions are dicier. Timing played a part. Boston wanted two All-Star-level building blocks. They feared flipping their golden trade chip for the first one, whiffing on the second, and ending up having squandered their best asset to build a team that wasn't appreciably better than their previous iteration of LeBron roadkill.

They preferred signing the first one -- Hayward -- in free agency, and then jumping headlong into the trade market. They may well have Paul George now had the Pacers waited another 10 days, but Boston was concerned George would leave for the Lakers in a year. Irving's deal runs one season longer, and he has already relayed an enthusiasm for playing in Boston.

The Celtics had some concerns over how Hayward and Butler would mesh, both on the court and as personalities, sources say.

-Per Zach Lowe (via The Athletic’s Stephen Noh)

The timing issue eluded to in Lowe’s article is interesting. The Bulls didn’t have to trade Jimmy Butler on draft night, the only benefit gained then was moving up nine spots in the first round. Had they waited until after the Celtics landed Gordon Hayward via free agency on July 4, would Ainge have been more willing to sweeten the deal with the Brooklyn first-round pick? Lowe suggests as much.

This is another entry on a growing list of possible reasons why the Boston Celtics didn’t trade for Jimmy Butler.

  • The Celtics feel that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have All-Star potential. They both play the same position as Jimmy Butler, therefore adding him to the roster would have been redundant.
  • Kyrie Irving is two years younger than Butler and didn’t endure the Tom Thibodeau minutes plan in Chicago.
  • Gar Forman and John Paxson simply are bad negotiators and couldn’t convince Danny Ainge that Butler was valuable enough of a player to command a large return.