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Smoke = Fire

I don't know anything more than I've reported here already, but I grow more certain by the day that something pretty significant is going to happen.  Call it "chatter," call it "rumblings," or call it "smoke."  There's a lot of it going on right now and Ainge is right in the thick of things.

That isn't to say I believe in any one particular rumor that has come out recently.  I'll go so far as to say that none of them will happen as reported.  My guess is that if we are hearing about them, the rumors are already a couple weeks old.  Those rumors get passed along in a game of telephone where critical pieces of information get lost along the way and opinion gets mixed with rumor (never mind facts).  So I'm not going to waste a ton of time speculating about one rumor or another (though it is fun to weigh the pros & cons and debate them for a while).

What strikes me is the consistency and regularity with which we hear the Celtics involved.  They've been connected to the Suns, the Grizzlies, the Kings, and just about anyone with a first round draft pick.  Multiple sources are claiming that Ray Allen is available for the right price (and the rumored price has ranged from Amare Stoudemire to draft pick and expiring contracts).  Rondo's name has come up on more than one occasion and now even Perkins has been tossed into the tumbler.  We haven't even talked much about Big Baby.  And if you prefer to dislodge from reality, you can find "rumors" on message boards about Dwyane Wade or Chris Paul.

Wyc poured gas on the fire when he made the pronouncement that there was a scenario where we could clear enough cap space to land a max free agent.  The only way that happens is if some significant moves are made between now and next summer.

Of course the rumor miss isn't limited to the Celtics.  The Suns are said to be looking for buyers for both Stoudamire and Shaq.  The Cavs are looking to add a star next to LeBron.  The Hawks might be looking to dump Josh Smith and/or Speedy Claxton (with the 19 pick).  The Wizards might be looking to offload Antawn Jamison.  The Wolves might be looking to snag the #2 pick.  Houston is trying to move Tracy McGrady.  This time of year always brings rumors, but there seems to be a higher sense of urgency and maybe even desperation this time around (probably related to the economy and the 2010 free agent class).

I don't blame Ainge at all for kicking the tires and "throwing things against the wall" in this market.  That's his job.  He has to look under every rock and ever GM is calling every other GM every day with hundreds of ideas that none of us ever hears about.  Still, there just seems to be something more to all this talk than the business-as-usual rumor season.

I think Ainge will make a deal and I wouldn't be surprised at all to see someone from the starting 5 leave town.  Furthermore, I don't think he'll stop there.  In fact, I don't think he can stop there.  Our starting five has wonderful balance right now (everyone has a defined role that they excel at).  It isn't likely that we'll be able to trade (for example) Ray Allen and get back another shooting guard to adequately fill that spot in the starting lineup.  So an additional move has to be made, either via free agency or another trade (or by expanding the original trade to involved a 3rd team which becomes very complex very quickly).

My guess is that the trade that actually does go down will be something we haven't even heard about yet.  There will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth (probably by me) because we've come to love the core of this group.  People (like me) will rush to declare winners and losers in the trade.  But in the end, all that matters is the end result.  Ainge isn't just working on winning a trade. He's trying to position us to make a run at the Championship; not just this year but for years to come.

I was sure this was going to be an interesting offseason and thus far it has not disappointed.  While there's only been one actual trade completed thus far, the smoke is billowing out from where the GM's are conducting business.  A lot of big stuff is going to happen this summer, and chances are the Celtics will be part of it.

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