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No recent effort by Celtics to add Jimmy Butler, per Danny Ainge

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Friday that while he had "many conversations" with the Chicago Bulls in recent years about the availability of Jimmy Butler, the two teams did not engage in trade discussions in the days before the three-time All-Star was dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night.

After the Celtics introduced rookie Jayson Tatum, the No. 3 pick in Thursday's draft, during a news conference at the team's practice facility, Ainge was asked whether he felt the team missed an opportunity by not landing Butler.

Danny Ainge.
"We knew [Butler being traded] was likely. Quite honestly, I thought that he was going to be traded last summer," said Ainge. "He's a terrific player.

"But we've had many conversations with [the Bulls] over the last couple years. We just couldn't get anything done."

Asked whether any of those conversations had occurred in the past week, Ainge replied, "No. No."

The Celtics were rumored to be chasing Butler in recent seasons, especially during last year's draft and again at February's trade deadline. There were reports this week that the Celtics turned down offers from a Bulls team seeking the No. 3 pick, but Ainge seemed to suggest that was untrue.

Some Celtics fans wondered why Boston, with its war chest of draft picks and some intriguing young talent, couldn't put together a package that topped what Minnesota landed Butler with on Thursday. The Timberwolves traded Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen) to Chicago in exchange for Butler and the No. 16 pick (Justin Patton).

During an appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 The Sports Hub earlier Friday, Ainge challenged the notion that Minnesota didn't give up much and suggested the package was even better than what he believed the Timberwolves offered a year ago in trade discussions with the Bulls.

Ainge said Boston's focus now is on the start of free agency July 1. He said he is hopeful the Celtics can attract a big-name player given their ability to open max cap space.

Boston is expected to make a run at top free agents, including Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin, this summer.

Asked how confident he is that the Celtics can make a splashy move this summer, Ainge responded, "I'm confident. But there's no guarantees ever. It's like you're playing poker with guys. You never know what's in the other hand. ... We feel like we have some opportunities to do some things this summer."

Source: http://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/19719067/boston-celtics-did-not-recently-engage-trade-talks-jimmy-butler-according-danny-ainge

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