The idea that the NBA is a business isn’t sneaking up on Jimmy Butler.
“I control what I can control,’’ Butler has insisted several times during the season when asked about trade rumors.
Butler, who has a good enough rapport with general manager Gar Forman, might not fully trust everything Forman has said over the years, but he does believe him on one key front: The Bulls aren’t looking to move him by the trade deadline Thursday.
A source reiterated Monday that the Bulls have received numerous calls about Butler, but they haven’t made any calls.
That’s the same message they’ve relayed to Butler, who privately feels he won’t be moved unless “something crazy happens’’ between now and the deadline.
The only team capable of that type of “crazy’’ would be the Celtics, who own numerous first-round picks over the next few seasons and have talented young players they can package for Butler.
And they aren’t shy about the idea of adding Butler to the mix, either.
“Butler’s got the full package,’’ Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas said during All-Star Weekend. “He can shoot. He can make plays for others. He can defend. He’s got good size. One thing I do know about him is he’s a hard worker, and at the beginning of his career, he wasn’t really given anything. He didn’t have the opportunity to play — we kind of had the same situation where we didn’t play as much. And then when we were given our opportunity, we took it and ran with it.’’
Thomas also said he could envision how their games would mesh if they joined forces.
“For sure,’’ Thomas said. “We have some similarities. We work hard, we don’t back down from anybody and we would never give them anything.’’
A deal for Butler would at least make the Celtics a bigger threat to dethrone the top-seeded Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference.
But what about the Bulls’ standing in the East? At 28-29, they’ll start the final push for a playoff berth in the No. 7 spot with 25 regular-season games left. The Bulls close out April with a favorable schedule.
Their last five games are at the Knicks, 76ers and Nets, then home against the Magic and Nets. It couldn’t set up any better.
Making the playoffs matters to the front office. Moving Butler would make reaching the postseason much tougher, and it would assure Dwyane Wade’s exit after the season. So the Bulls would be losing their two best free-agent recruiters.
That doesn’t mean the Bulls will be silent Thursday.
Obviously, Butler is the most attractive piece who would guarantee the biggest return by far, but Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Rajon Rondo could be dealt. Gibson and Mirotic will hit the free-agent market this summer, and Rondo hasn’t been happy with his backup role since the start of January.
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