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NBA Trade Rumors: The Sixers inquired about a Jimmy Butler trade, according to a report

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Butler is unlikely to be moved, but the Sixers are asking around anyway.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls don’t especially feel the need to make a Jimmy Butler trade, but it never hurts to ask. And that’s exactly what it appears the Sixers did, according to a report released just hours before the NBA trade deadline ends the churning of the rumor mill.

K.C. Johnson, a well-respected reporter for the Chicago Tribune, dropped this tidbit in a column about Chicago’s intention to rebuff nearly any offer for Butler:

If the Celtics plan to make a major push for either Butler or Pacers star Paul George, they will do so on deadline day. The Bulls have told teams that have inquired about Butler — including, according to a source, the 76ers — that they have no plans to trade him.

Of course, one blockbuster offer could change that stance. And the Celtics are loaded with assets. Most league observers expect the teams to at least have dialogue Thursday after engaging in serious talks centered on Butler last June.

Butler is likely to be the more expensive of the star wings on the market, because he’s on the books for another two seasons after this one, compared to Paul George’s player option coming next summer. The cost to acquire the Bulls’ star would likely be prohibitive for the Sixers, especially if Chicago ramps up discussions with other suitors in the hours leading into the deadline.

But in the spirit of kicking the tires on a trade for George, why not ask? The Sixers are already engaged in trade discussions with the Bulls in search of a home for Jahlil Okafor, so the least they can do is inquire about Butler. He’s been one of the NBA’s best players this season, and you only have a chance to get him if you’re willing to ask in the first place.

Even if Colangelo is simply asking whether Butler is available, this due diligence could always benefit the franchise later if the Bulls get more serious about dealing him. Teams looking to close deals tend to circle back with trade partners who have already given them reason to believe they’d be interested, and at the very least Bryan Colangelo should be on the “give him a call” list if talks escalate.

One additional Sixers-related update from Johnson: the Sixers and Bulls don’t appear to agree on the value of forward Nikola Mirotic:

In lieu of Butler developments, the Bulls focused on other discussions. Nikola Mirotic, who has been available for weeks, continues to be offered to teams such as the Clippers and 76ers, sources said. The 76ers have been shopping Whitney Young product and 2015 No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor for weeks but haven't shown much interest in Mirotic.

If Mirotic is part of a package the Sixers get, sure. He can step into the backup PF role behind Dario Saric, and the Sixers can let the restricted free agent walk in the offseason. He shouldn’t be the centerpiece of anything, however; Mirotic is in the midst of his worst NBA season and wouldn’t fit all that well in the team’s long-term plans, with Saric and Simmons expected to dominate minutes at the four.

I would expect at least a few more rumors flying out of Chicago before the dust settles. A Jimmy Butler trade might not be in the cards, but you can bet the Sixers will be active and inquisitive right up until the trade deadline.

The Sixers have trades to make. Who's likely to be out the door?

Posted by Liberty Ballers on Thursday, January 12, 2017