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Trade talk gets louder for Bulls, just not for Jimmy Butler

With the trade deadline looming at 2 p.m. Thursday, the Bulls’ brass remained busy Wednesday talking about their players.

Or at least the players not named Jimmy Butler.

Multiple sources reiterated to the Sun-Times that while the Bulls have taken numerous calls on Butler this week, they have no plans to move the three-time All-Star.

Not that coach Fred Hoiberg was going to tip his hand.

“Jimmy obviously has been great for us,” Hoiberg said. “We think that will obviously continue to happen.”

While Butler was excused from practice Wednesday evening, he has been prominent in trade rumors, with the Celtics mentioned as an interested team.

Hoiberg said rumors are rampant this time of year.

“The job that the front-office guys have right now is to hear everything and listen to everything and see if there’s something that can help out without jeopardizing the future,” Hoiberg said. “There’s a lot of things, a lot of scenarios that are out there, but 99 percent of the things you hear and read don’t transpire. You just have to be ready to go out and compete and control what you can control.”

Hoiberg tried to keep the outside noise to a minimum by conducting two days of hard practices.

“I don’t think it’s affected us at all,” Hoiberg said of the trade talk. “I think our guys have done a great job. There’s so many rumors that get thrown against the wall. That’s what most of them are. They’re rumors, and our guys have done a good job of ignoring that and going out and trying to work through.

“I like the way we finished before the break with two very good wins. Hopefully, we can build off what we did in those games, with momentum going into the break, and come out and play well starting on Friday.

“Everybody’s doing their job right now. There’s probably a lot more noise than what’s actually going to happen.”

But even Hoiberg couldn’t quiet all the noise.

That’s why Nikola Mirotic should keep a bag packed just in case.

The Sun-Times reported in early January that Mirotic was being shopped, and that hasn’t changed.

In addition, Hoiberg implied that Mirotic will get less playing time if he isn’t traded.

The coach raved about how well Bobby Portis played in the win over the Celtics last week.

“He’s going to continue to get his opportunity to get minutes,” he said. “And hopefully, he will continue to play well.”

When asked if that meant Mirotic

was out of the rotation for the time being, Hoiberg said, “We’ll see. We’ll see how the flow of the game is going.

“We’ve had so many young guys who have come off that bench. You try to find the players that can help you win. Some nights, it will be different guys, especially based on different injuries and illnesses. Guys have gotten opportunities to play extended minutes. It would be great to have a full, healthy roster here coming down the stretch and try to settle on a nine- or 10-man rotation.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com