Bulls Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Chicago Entering 2017 Deadline

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2017

After helping beat the Boston Celtics last week, Jimmy Butler could be traded to the Green.
After helping beat the Boston Celtics last week, Jimmy Butler could be traded to the Green.Paul Beaty/Associated Press

Jimmy Butler is the best player on the Chicago Bulls by wide miles and has turned out to be one of the best players in the NBA and an ESPN cover boy.

But for the last month, rumors have persisted that Butler would be dealt from the Bulls to the Boston Celtics. The motivation for this potential deal, which includes the potential No. 1 draft pick this summer (through the floundering Brooklyn Nets), is simple. 

The Celtics are playing well and sense an opportunity to overcome the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, while the Bulls have missed the playoffs last year with Butler and seem like a team heading nowhere with him in the lineup this season.

Why not trade Butler for a package that includes the potential No. 1 draft pick? That's one of the possibilities for the Celtics, who would become a stronger and more gifted team with the All-Star on the roster. 

However, nothing is ever that simple in the NBA. Putting together a package that includes a first-round draft pick, or even the No. 1 pick in the first round, does not guarantee the team will overcome LeBron James and the Cavs.

That's something that general manager Danny Ainge has to consider before making any trade, and so do John Paxson and Gar Forman of the Bulls. 

The two teams are considering making the trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports' The Vertical.

"These teams have engaged on the potential of this trade, (but) they have not gotten far down the road on it," Wojnarowski said in a video for the website. "There still needs to be some alignment within the Bulls' organization, from ownership to management, that they want to make the decision to enter a full rebuild ... These are two teams that have what the other wants."

The two teams face a February 23 trade deadline at 2 p.m. ET and have to get the deal done by then or wait until the offseason to pursue the trade.

If the Bulls trade Butler, they would be in the tear-down mode, and that means nearly any player on their roster could become available. However, if that is going to happen, it seems the first domino to fall must be Butler.

Jahlil Okafor may be available in a trade.
Jahlil Okafor may be available in a trade.John Raoux/Associated Press

The Bulls also appear to be one of the teams interested in Philadelphia 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor. ESPN's Marc Stein has reported that Okafor is available, and the Bulls are one of the teams interested. So could the Celtics, presumably if they don't complete a deal for Jimmy Buckets.

"Okafor is kind of still there," Stein said on ESPN radio (through Jay King of MassLive.com). "He's been so out there that you tend to think Philadelphia will find something in the next three days where they move him. I've heard that Boston has still given that some consideration. Chicago's another team that's been said to have shown some Okafor interest."

Another deal involving Nikola Mirotic moving to the Los Angeles Clippers could also be on the horizon, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

Mirotic, a 6'10" power forward, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. That could limit what he brings in a trade.