Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” Monday that the trade between the Celtics and 76ers that will send the first overall pick to Philly is tied Boston’s pursuit of Bulls forward Jimmy Butler.
Smith said that the Bulls offered Butler to the 76ers in an attempt to acquire the third overall pick in the draft, but that Philadelphia wasn’t interested. Now that Boston has the pick after trading the top selection for No. 3 and a future first, Smith believes the C’s intend to trade for Butler. He added that the Celtics would then sign Gordon Hayward in free agency.
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“The Boston Celtics are planning on acquiring Jimmy Butler,” Smith said. “They don’t know if they’ll be able to, but their hope is they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick, get themselves Jimmy Butler, go into free agency, get Gordon Hayward, and then combine Butler with Hayward, keeping Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and those boys in tow, and making a legitimate run at the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown knowing that they then get to come back the following year and likely get another first-round pick on top of the one that they will have, etc. etc.
“So that’s their belief right now for the Boston Celtics, the No. 3 pick, worst-case scenario that they find themselves in a position to draft somebody like a Josh Jackson out of Kansas, but the hope is that they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick to get their hands on Jimmy Butler. They believe they’ve got a better shot than anybody at getting Gordon Hayward from Utah to come and play for his old college coach at Butler, Mr. Brad Stevens, and as a result, the combination of those two additions to the squad along with keeping the nucleus of their team intact will make them on par, at least in most folks’ eyes, to legitimately compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown again.”
Butler, 27, has two more years on his contract with a player option for the 2019-20 season.