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Report: Celtics tried to trade for Jimmy Butler, Bulls weren’t interested

Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 03: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles the ball during an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on January 03, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

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In the aftermath of the trade deadline, there has been chatter that Celtics GM Danny Ainge was on the cusp of making a big deal for a major player involving the Nets’ unprotected 2016 first-round pick. Jahlil Okafor’s name as come up as a potential target, as has (much less realistically) Anthony Davis. Now, we can add another name to the list of mystery players.

The Boston Herald‘s Steve Bulpett reports that the Celtics called the Bulls about two-time All-Star Jimmy Butler:

One of those stars whose profile intrigued the Celtics didn’t get to play in that game because of a strained knee. It’s been said that Chicago’s Jimmy Butler would be a good fit here, but multiple sources are telling the Herald that the Celts did, in fact, make a strong move for the 6-foot-7 wing.

According to one source that had at least one player who could have been involved in the potential transaction, the Celtics were willing to give up two first-round draft picks this year — the unprotected pick from the Nets and Dallas’ choice, which is protected 1-through-7.

The Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson followed up on that report, saying the Bulls didn’t show much interest in trading Butler:

These developments are to be expected on both sides. If you’re Ainge, and you have this war chest of attractive assets to play with, why wouldn’t you at least make the call about someone of Butler’s caliber? The Celtics have set themselves up to have the pieces to trade for the next star that comes available, so there’s no reason not to be aggressive in pursuing one.

On the Bulls’ side, this is a roster in flux and in search of an identity. But Butler, a two-way All-Star at 26 years old locked into a five-year contract, is the one piece that’s a no-brainer to keep around long-term. The Bulls would have to be absolutely blown away with an offer to seriously consider parting with Butler, and the Celtics didn’t do that. You can’t blame them for trying, though.