Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17

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Four years since the Celtics won Banner 17

Yesterday was an enormous day in the world of sports.

We had the final round at the U.S. Open. Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Sox and Cubs at Wrigley. Dale Jr. back in the winners circle. Ladainian Tomlinson calling it quits. Ronaldo on fire. Antonio Cromartie testing the limits of Fathers Day.

It was a trip.

But four years ago yesterday we witnessed an event that trumps all that. An event that locally save for diehard Bruins fans trumps every sports moment in the four years since: Celtics 131, Lakers 92

Banner 17.

Anythiiings Possiiiiblllllle!

Big Baby is George Constanza.

Oh what a night.

In so many ways, its hard to believe that its only been four years since the Celtics were on top of the world. In fact, I was one of the hordes of people who spent most of yesterday thinking it had been five years. But thats not how math works. It's four years. Four years since the Celtics came together like very few teams before them. Since they erased more than 20 years of pain. Since they did it at home, against their most bitter rival. Since the Big 3 era became a complete and unquestionable success.

As we sit here today, theres a general and overwhelming feeling that the Big 3 era is over. Who knows if KG will come back, but from everything we've heard and from everything we can infer, Ray Allen's done in Boston. In which case, thats it. And at that point, we'll continue to ask the question that we have for the last two weeks, and really, for the last four years: Was one title enough?

Answer: YES.

Could they have had more? Of course. And that would have been fantastic. But asking if one was "enough," is like asking a guy who spent 20 years walking five miles to work: "Hey, how many Ferraris would it take to make you happy?" Yes, one was enough. It was always enough.

The fact that the "one" happened so quickly certainly changed our perception of what this team was capable of, but it never altered our expectations. We always looked at a second andor third title as gravy, but nothing necessary. And thank God, because two never came. In fact, "two" was lost in a series of should-have-been soul-crushing defeats. There was KG's injury, and blowing a 3-2 lead to the Magic in 2009. There was blowing a 3-2 lead to the Lakers in 2010. There was Danny Ainge ripping the heart out of the team in 2011, followed by Rondo's elbow injury. There was blowing their third 3-2 lead in four years, two weeks ago in Miami.

That's not to say those losses were void of emotion. They all hurt in their own unique way and will continue to do so forever, but nothing that happened these last four seasons will sting as much as it should. None of it will stain the legacy of the Big 3 as deeply as it could have. That's all because of June 17, 2008. Four years ago yesterday.

It was the only title that this core brought to Boston, but the only one they ever had to.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

Sources: Bulls asking for picks, young veterans in trade for Jimmy Butler

NEW ORLEANS – All-star weekend is winding down and the Boston Celtics once again are seemingly at the epicenter of most trade discussions.

That’s in part because they have the pieces to help pull off a blockbuster deal for themselves, or become the third team to help facilitate a trade coming to fruition. 

But in talking with league executives and scouts this weekend in New Orleans, all agree that the Celtics are focused more on making a blockbuster-type move, rather than a deal that could make them slightly better than they are now. 

“Anything is possible as you know,” said one Eastern Conference executive. “But they’re not Toronto which is basically 'all in' this year to try and get past Cleveland. Boston’s in the thick of it all, but not pressed to do anything unless it makes them a lot better and to be frank, there aren’t a lot of those potential deals out there for them.”

That’s because the Celtics (37-20) have the second-best record in the East despite their preferred starting five (Isaiah Thomas; Avery Bradley; Jae Crowder; Al Horford and Amir Johnson) having played a very limited number of games (21) together thus far this season.

Even when everyone’s healthy, Boston understands that they still may not be enough to get past the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. So the addition of a likely role player at the cost of one or more of their major assets (this year’s right to swap picks with Brooklyn or next year’s Brooklyn pick outright), is reason enough for Boston to pause and assess whether the benefit outweighs the cost of what they will have to give up. 

Boston can make a push for Denver’s Danilo Gallinari or his teammate Kenneth Faried who are both available and would help Boston’s overall talent base. They could also revisit Jahlil Okafor discussions or Nerlens Noel with Philadelphia, too.

But for what they need to significantly improve upon where they are now, they have to add a game-changing difference-maker to the mix. 

Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins are three players who on paper at least, would meet that criteria. 

Multiple league sources this weekend confirmed that each of their respective teams isn’t making a push to trade them. But like every team in the league, they will certainly listen to any and all offers. Only Indiana and Sacramento have come out publicly to say they are not planning to trade their players, with the Pacers indicating they’re willing to give up their first-round pick in order to add a stable, proven talent to the mix in order to help George going forward. 

Meanwhile, the Bulls have been somewhat indifferent to potentially moving Butler, who is playing his third all-star game tonight. 

That’s why several teams, the Celtics included, have inquired about Butler’s availability. While the Bulls haven’t set any specific parameters, league executives believe they are seeking some combination of high draft picks and young veterans (players with experience who are either near the end of their rookie deals or have team-friendly contracts) just to consider moving Butler.

Boston has exactly what the Bulls are looking for if they decide they are going to move on from Butler and rebuild, but how much are the Celtics willing to give up?

That more than anything else, is what will ultimately determine if a deal between the Bulls and the Celtics comes to pass. Boston loves Butler, and believes he could be part of their continued surge towards becoming an elite team that can bring home Banner 18. But the Celtics are not convinced that the addition of Butler would necessarily catapult Boston to the same level of Cleveland or ahead of them. 

Even if the Celtics decide to stand pat with its team as they are now and let the Feb. 23 trade deadline pass without making a move, the Celtics are still working from a vantage point that few teams in the NBA can work from – a team near the top of their conference with relatively young players all with good team-friendly contracts, and draft picks in the next two years that are each likely to be high lottery (top-14) picks.

"They’re well positioned for the future,” said Steve Kerr, head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the West all-star team. “Because of the young talent, because of the coach (Brad Stevens) and because of the draft picks that they have coming up. They could end up with the number one pick in the draft which is remarkable.”

Kerr added, “That doesn’t happen often when you’re talking about a team that’s one of the best in the league already. Boston’s in a great place.”

Wojnarowski thinks Celtics are perfect candidate for Jimmy Butler trade

Wojnarowski thinks Celtics are perfect candidate for Jimmy Butler trade

Most NBA teams would benefit from adding Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. But few NBA have the assets to acquire him. The most legitimate suitor in the NBA resides in Boston.

"The potential of a Boston-Chicago deal for Jimmy Butler -- I think it will loom over the entire week," Yahoo! NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said Saturday. "These teams have engaged on the potential of this trade. They have not gotten far down the road on it. There still needs to be alignment within the Bulls organization -- from ownership to management -- that they want to make the decision to enter a full rebuild.

He added: "But the poential of this deal really illustrates the State Farm right combo, because these are two teams that have exactly what the other wants. Boston has been hoarding assets for years for a couple of season, trying to get in the position to get a star player."

Wojnarowski suggested the first building block for the Butler trade would start with either the 2017 or 2018 Brooklyn Nets' first-round pick, which the Celtics acquired in 2013 in the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trade.

"And Jimmy Butler in Boston, paired with Isaiah Thomas and this Celtics team -- it would put this Celtics team in a position to seriously challenge Cleveland [Cavaliers] in the east, not only in the short term, but also in the long term."

Butler's contract extends to 2020, and then Wojnarowski explained Boston could then sign the guard to another long-term deal. In the meantime, he could help Boston surpass a vulnerable-looking Cavaliers team.