In four regular-season games against the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler averaged 20.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists.
The Celtics got to know him even better when the two clubs squared off in the first round of the Eastern Conference Finals. While Boston ended up winning the series in six games, Butler led the Bulls to two early upsets and put up 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per contest in the six drama-filled battles.
With three more seasons left on his five-year, $92,339,878 contract with the Bulls (the third is a player option), the two-way superstar will come at a major discount for the rest of his current deal, as he is set to make under $20 million in each of the next three years, per Spotrac.
Therefore, if the Bulls are willing to part ways with the three-time All-Star, he would be a prime target for a team in position to offer an appropriately-gigantic package in return, even if he opts out in the third year, which he is expected to do given the current lucrative free agent landscape.
The Boston Celtics might be that team.
According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog, the Celtics are reportedly attempting to stockpile first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft in an effort to trade for Butler.
The Celtics hold the No. 1 selection in the draft and also own three second-round selections at the moment. They also have a number of future assets that they could deal, as they own the rights to the 2018 first-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets, 2019 first-round pick of the L.A. Clippers and 2019 first-round selection of the Memphis Grizzlies, among others.
It’s worth noting that the Celtics were linked to Butler before the in-season trade deadline, but nothing came to fruition, likely due to Boston's unwillingness to part with their rights to the Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick.
Since Boston would need to get by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at least through next season, adding Butler, who averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the regular season, would give them a comparable player who could match up with James on both ends of the floor.
It was painfully evident that the Celtics had glaring deficiencies when it came to defending James and limiting him overall, as he dominated on both ends of the floor during Cleveland's easy Eastern Conference Finals victory.
Butler would provide Boston with somewhat of an answer for King James.
Of course the Bulls would need to be willing to deal their franchise player and commit for a compete rebuild in order for the deal to happen, but if they do, the Celtics would instantly become a major threat to the Cavaliers in the East.