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Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s dreams of Celtics future

03.12.12 at 12:10 pm ET
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We’re three days from the NBA trade deadline, and still no serious sign of a blockbuster deal involving the Celtics. Then again, the same could’ve been said last season, when Danny Ainge shipped Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and the Clippers’ 2012 first-round draft pick.

All that remains from that deal is the top-10 protected No. 1 pick, which currently slots into the low-to-mid 20s. That’s still not a bad haul for a center who is currently averaging 4.4 points (45.1 FG%) and 4.6 rebounds in 26.7 minutes, but considering the negative hype surrounding that trade it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Ainge gets cold feet on dealing any of the Old Three or Rajon Rondo.

Do I believe Ainge would ever let public perception stop him from making a deal that improves the Celtics moving forward? Not really, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it made him think twice about pulling the trigger on a deal that only marginally improves his team.

Over the next three days, teams will likely call about Rondo, which is probably the case in the latest Pau Gasol rumor in the Los Angeles Times after the Lakers beat the Celtics 97-94 (Rondo: 24 points, 10 assists; Gasol: 13 points, 13 rebounds). The same speculation was floated a couple weeks ago by HoopsWorld’s Eric Pincus.

In the past, Ainge has denied that trade was ever on the table to WEEI’s Big Show, and a recently irked Doc Rivers alluded that the possibility of such a swap is a fabric of the internet’s imagination.

Why would the Celtics trade a three-time All-Star point guard entering his prime for another aging (albeit spectacular) big man? Does a starting lineup for the next few months of Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley get you any closer to a title this season, especially when the Lakers would start Rondo, Kobe Bryant, the anarchist formerly known as Ron Artest, Josh McRoberts/Troy Murphy and Andrew Bynum.

All the more reason to remain suspect of this latest report claiming it’s the Lakers unwilling to part with Gasol.

Of course, Ainge will also have his share of pipe dreams, visions of sugar plums in the form of Dwight Howard. The latest round of Howard rumors has the Magic either staying put — and thus gambling he’ll sign an extension this summer — or luring the Bulls into trade discussions for Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Omer Asik. Either way, it doesn’t appear he’ll be coming down the Pike anytime soon (or ever).

And then there will be more realistic (if not equally implausible) options for the Celtics over the next three days. Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been mentioned in possible deals for Josh Smith, Rondo’s high school teammate who has reportedly requested a trade from the Hawks. Those options make little sense from Atlanta’s perspective for the same reasons a Gasol deal shouldn’t wet Ainge’s whistle.

Meanwhile, the Clippers continue to scour the league’s rosters for a shooting guard capable of contributing to a championship run this season and beyond. See: Allen, Ray (and, by the way, not Ray, Allan).

As ESPN.com reported, the asking price for guys like Allen, Jamal Crawford or Nick Young has been a combination of either Eric Bledsoe, a future first-round pick (as you’ll recall, the Celtics already own the Clips’ 2012 first-round pick) and the expiring deals of Randy Foye and/or Brian Cook (both of whom would have to be included to make an Allen swap successful from a salary cap standpoint).

The Clippers have said such scenarios are too rich for their blood, but you never know how thirsty they might get for a championship after somewhere around seven billion consecutive seasons in the NBA lottery. And Allen is probably the most likely of the Big Four to be moved, if only because of the risk in trading Rondo, the betrayal in moving Pierce and the Temple of Doom-esque heart removal in shipping Garnett.

Ainge has probably already called AT&T to ensure his call waiting service still works, for there will be much discussion, and likely little action. But if last year’s trade deadline is any indication, nobody really knows anything.

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’€™s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith
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