We know where the Boston Celtics are in the rebuilding process — big game hunting time. They are loaded with nice young role players and draft picks, but they need an alpha, a superstar, an elite player.
GM Danny Ainge is trying. Hard. With their No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft as the centerpiece. It’s just not easy to swing that kind of deal — even for guys who are a step (or two) down from true alpha status. Marc Stein of ESPN has the details of Ainge’s effort.
But sources told ESPN that the Celtics, to date, have been rebuffed in their efforts to assemble a sufficiently enticing deal to acquire any of these four prime targets: Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward and Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton….
The Bulls, sources say, continue to show little interest in dealing Butler to the Celtics, who previously tried to trade for him before the league’s annual deadline in February.
Sources say the Celtics are one of just a number of teams trying to convince Utah to surrender Hayward — Phoenix, which holds two lottery picks (No. 4 and 13) in Thursday’s draft, is another — but the Jazz have been telling interested teams that he is not available. The same, sources say, goes for Parker and Middleton in Milwaukee, since the Bucks regard both of those young cornerstones, as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo, as untouchables.
The Bulls are showing little interest in dealing Butler to anyone, but who would they get at No. 3 that is anywhere near as good (even potentially) as Butler. Utah likes where is it headed and Hayward is at the heart of its attack. I can’t blame the Bucks for wanting to keep their core together.
Eventually Ainge will get his star, but it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be expensive. And in a draft where there is a considerable drop off after the top two picks, selling teams on a package based around the third pick is destined to be difficult.