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NBA Trade Rumors: Feb. 16–19

Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins headline an All-Star packed round of trade rumors.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than a week away from the February 23 trade deadline, and trade rumors are flying around the league.

On Wednesday ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that the Detroit Pistons had “quietly explored the trade market” for center Andre Drummond and point guard Reggie Jackson. While he described a Drummond trade as “an extreme long shot” he suggested Minnesota, Orlando, and New Orleans as potential destinations for Jackson. On Friday, Marc Stein of ESPN reported that Orlando and Detroit had discussed a trade involving the sixth year guard.

Stein was quick to point out that it wasn’t clear if the talks had progressed beyond “discussion,” but combined with Lowe’s report it does seem that the Pistons are looking to move Jackson.

The Toronto Raptors’ addition of Serge Ibaka has some around the league wondering if the Celtics will try to match with a big move of their own. On Tuesday, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune wrote that “many league executives believe [the Celtics] at least will re-kindle talks from last June regarding Jimmy Butler to see his cost.”

As of now, league sources insist the Celtics won't part with this June's first-round pick they own from the Nets, which could be the No. 1 overall selection in a strong draft. The Celtics also own the Nets' 2018 first-round pick.

Whether the Celtics' stance changes between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline is unknown. So is whether the Bulls would even pull the trigger on a Butler trade even if the Celtics changed their stance on those picks.

Boston has a lot of assets they could package in a deal. Celtics president Danny Ainge made it clear this week that he’s not interested in giving up those assets for a short term fix. On Thursday in a weekly interview with local Boston radio’s 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, Ainge said:

I’m certainly aware of all of our competition around the East. It’s not from a lack of desire to want to do a trade, but as an organization we have priorities and a plan. We’re not looking for Band-Aids, and we’re not looking to give up future assets. We’re trying to build something more sustainable than a rent-a-player.

Everyone knows the assets we have and the young players we have. In any conversation we have the price is a lot because of what we have in the bank. That’s the challenge we’re facing, and we’re trying to stick to our plan. If a deal comes along where the price to add someone to the team who is more long-term than someone who is just the last 25 games of the season, we have more interest in that than we do in finding a Band-Aid.

Butler would not be considered a short-term rental. The All Star’s contract runs through the 2019–20 season. However, when addressing his team’s needs, Ainge listed rim protection and rebounding as areas that he would like to improve.

Writing for the Boston Herald on Friday, Steve Bulpett reported that the Celtics have been active in a number of discussions at All-Star weekend.

“Danny’s let it be known that he’s willing to talk about the Nets’ picks,” said one league executive, referencing the first-rounders owed by Brooklyn this year (in a swap of first-round positions between the Celts and Nets) and next (unencumbered). “But you want one of those guys, you have to be willing to give up a star.”

Bulpett listed Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut and Denver Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari as players the Celtics may be interested in.

Indiana Pacers All Star Paul George was in the news on Friday. When asked about signing a $219 million contract extension with the Pacers in the upcoming off-season he told Marc Stein that he wants to play for a winning team.

As I told Larry, I always want to play on a winning team. I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it [all]. That’s important.

Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.

While George stated that he would like to bring a championship to Indiana, his statements should give Pacers president Larry Bird some cause for concern. Shortly after news of George’s comments, Chris Haynes of ESPN reported that Indiana was shopping their first round pick in this year’s draft in attempt to bolster their current roster.

The Pacers currently sit in the sixth seed in the East with a record of 29-28, but they have lost six in a row and are closer to the ninth seed than the fifth seed. George is signed through the 2018–19 season but can opt out of his contract after next season.

While there has been some talk this season of the Sacramento Kings moving All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, it seems like most of these discussions were merely speculation. On Friday, however, Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported that the Orlando Magic turned down a deal for the Kings big man.

According to Bucher, the deal would have sent Nikola Vucevic and either Evan Fournier or draft picks to the Kings. The Magic were apparently worried about the ability to re-sign Cousins and building around a “high maintenance big man.”

Some other notes from around the league:

That’s all for now. We’re only a few days away from the trade deadline, so check back for the latest NBA trade rumors later this week.

Trade deadline on the horizon? Here are some options worth noting.

Posted by Blazer's Edge on Thursday, January 12, 2017