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Report: Celtics hoping to trade for Butler, sign Hayward

Jimmy Butler could be on his way to Boston before the NBA Draft.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics have agreed to trade the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, and that deal is reportedly just the first step in a series of blockbuster moves Danny Ainge is hoping to make.

On ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning, Stephen A. Smith reported that the Chicago Bulls approached the 76ers about sending Jimmy Butler to Philly in exchange for the No. 3 overall pick. The Sixers turned it down.

“The Chicago Bulls were talking to the Philadelphia 76ers — they wanted the No. 3 overall pick and they were willing to unload Jimmy Butler,” Smith said. “Philadelphia in turn said, ‘Hey, we don’t want Jimmy Butler. We like our youth movement.’ … No veteran’s going to come in here — outside of LeBron James and Kevin Durant — and really turn this thing around for us, therefore we want to continue with our youth movement.”

Enter the Celtics, who then decided to move back two spots to No. 3 and acquire an additional future first-round pick in the process. ESPN’s Mark Stein reported on Friday that the trade between the Celtics and 76ers is actually a three-team deal where Butler will be headed to Boston. Smith said that is not quite a done deal, but it is said to be the Celtics’ goal.

And if and when they land Butler, the C’s will then focus their attention on impending free agent Gordon Hayward.

“The Boston Celtics are planning on acquiring Jimmy Butler,” Smith added. “They don’t know if they’ll be able to, but their hope is that they’ll be able to use the No. 3 pick, get themselves Jimmy Butler, go into free agency and get Gordon Hayward.”

Smith said the Celtics believe they “have a better shot than anybody” at getting Hayward to come to Boston, as the Utah Jazz star played for Brad Stevens in college at Butler.

For a while, it looked like a sure thing that the Celtics were going to take former Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick. Apparently they don’t feel Fultz is a franchise-altering player, and this could help explain why.

If the Celtics are able to keep their core intact, add Butler and Gordon and still keep some of the future first-round picks they have acquired, Ainge will have had himself one heck of an offseason.

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