Not even a week removed from the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, and Celtics' fans are already asking themselves "what if?" What if Boston had made a trade at the deadline? What if they had another superstar to pair with Isaiah Thomas? Those "what if's" may be hypothetical, but it's hard to believe Boston couldn't have put up a better fight if they had a guy like Jimmy Butler on the team.
Interestingly enough, Jimmy Butler was much closer to being a Celtic than we all thought.
Before the trade deadline, Boston was leading the rumor mill with a myriad of potential trade scenarios. Paul George, Gordon Hayward, and even Blake Griffin were all names revolving around the Celtic's this deadline.
Then, of course, there's Jimmy Butler. For JB and the Celtics, their partnership was prevented by one huge demand by Boston. A report by Adam Kaufman suggests that in earlier trade talks between Boston and Chicago, the Celtics would only be willing to part with the Nets pick if it was No. 1 protected. Obviously the Bulls declined, but it says a lot about the direction each team plans to go in the future.
What does this mean? Well for one, it means that the Celtics already know who they want to draft. Whether it's Fultz or some other surprise prospect, the Celtics seem to have a strong liking towards someone in that draft. It means they probably won't be trading that pick unless an irresistible offer comes their way.
For the Bulls, it's a pretty strong indicator that the thought of parting ways with Butler is much more a reality than fiction. If they find the right offer for him, it could mean Butler is on the move.
In the end though the Bulls were smart by not making the trade, especially after knowing what we do now. Chicago would have been without their star and without a pick.
Who will Boston draft, and why chose him over Butler? Will the Bulls find the right deal for their star player? These questions will have to wait to be answered, at least until the NBA Draft. But it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the end, and who become the real winner of the trade that never happened.