Celtics may reignite pursuit of Paul

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Celtics may reignite pursuit of Paul

With the Los Angeles Lakers' three-way deal to obtain Chris Paul now dead, two league sources anticipate the Boston Celtics will at least "entertain" the idea of re-entering the Chris Paul sweepstakes.

However, with the heavy-handed manner in which the New Orleans ownership group - the NBA - has been thus far, the C's are not expected to push for Paul nearly as hard as they did earlier.

"Why should they?" one rival GM said. "Nobody really knows what to make of all this. Teams usually know going in what it takes to get a deal done. With New Orleans now, no one is really sure."

The Hornets had a three-team deal agreed upon this week with the Lakers and Houston Rockets, that would have netted them Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, backup guard Goran Dragic from Houston, along with a future first-round pick, and Lamar Odom from the Lakers. Houston would have received Pau Gasol in the deal.

However, the league killed the deal for what NBA commissioner David Stern cited as "basketball reasons."

All three teams were then sent back to try and work out another swap that would have apparently netted the Hornets more assets.

The Lakers reportedly pulled out of the deal, and now have their sights set on acquiring Dwight Howard who has made a request to be traded. They are also reportedly on the verge of sending Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks.

For the Celtics, it all means that the door to acquiring Paul is once again open. But there's no sense as to whether Boston's last offer for Paul - Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and a pair of future first-round picks - will be enough to satisfy Hornets General Manager Dell Demps or more important, Stern.

And if you're Boston, you would think New Orleans is even more motivated to move Paul now after this fiasco, and the next offer from the C's may not have to necessarily be as good.

These are the times when Boston's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, earns his pay.

With extremely limited resources, he has already put together a lineup that includes Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox and Keyon Dooling in addition to re-signing Green for one year.

Having an opportunity to add Paul is very tempting, obviously.

But any deal for Paul at this point will likely need a third team.

"Good luck with that one," said one front-office executive. "This is a mess; a big old mess. I don't see how anyone is going to come out of this thing feeling good, or looking good."

Kind of like the 149-day lockout?

"Exactly," the same source said.

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Zach Lowe’s most recent podcast is worth a listen, as it features plenty of talk about what the Celtics may or may not due ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Lowe brought up the possibility of the Celtics top-1 or top-2-protecting Brooklyn’s first-round pick and including it in a deal for Butler. He surmises that the inclusion of the Brooklyn pick -- protected or not -- might not come until the final minutes. 

“Look, if Butler gets traded or if Paul George gets traded, that’s when it’s going to happen,” Marc Stein responded. “It’s going to happen in the last five to 10 minutes, so Boston has to make a decision, and let's see if they’re doing the math that they’ve had these assets for a while and it is time to do something bold and the time is now. Really, I think Boston will do it. The question is what will Chicago or Indiana do? And those are two hard reads.” 

Stein spoke to the Celtics’ lack of activity at certain points, but he said that if the C’s do fail to come away with a star player Thursday, it won’t be for lack of aggressiveness. 

MORE TRADE TALK

“I think the Celtics are taking criticism for waiting, and they’ve had all these assets they haven’t moved yet, but I think the record shows that Danny Ainge in general, in total, is very aggressive, not afraid to roll the dice, not afraid to make the aggressive move,” Stein said. “So I have less doubt about Boston saying, ‘Let’s just do it.’ I have far more questions about what Chicago and/or Indiana would do.” 

Lowe said that he imagines the Bulls would “think about” trading the C's Butler if Boston threw in the Nets’ pick unprotected, but added that Chicago would demand to also take two players out of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. 

“I think that will be the offer and they’ll get there and Chicago will either have a moment where they say, ‘We walk away or we’ll do it.’ And Boston’s not going to throw in the other Nets pick,” Lowe said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Rating the aforementioned foursome in terms of trade value, Lowe said that Crowder is the best piece because of his “ridiculously good” contract, followed by Brown, Smart and Bradley. 

Lowe added that he considers Bradley one of the “sneaky interesting pieces at this trade deadline” because his contract is up after next season, which is the same time that Isaiah Thomas’ contract expires. Lowe says that given the uncertainty of his future in Boston, he wouldn’t be overly surprised if Bradley is moved at the deadline. 

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 

MORE TRADE TALK

Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game.