BOSTON — With the first round of the NBA playoffs a thing of the past now, there are now eight more teams in the loser's lounge of the NBA which is filled with clubs with no games to play whose focus is on improving their roster for the future.
But the one team that stands out at least around here, is Houston which would be a runaway winner if there was a contest for the Celtics' most likely trade partner this summer.
As reported by various media outlets, the Rockets are expected to reach out to the Celtics at some point this summer to get a feel for whether Rajon Rondo is in fact available, something that currently is not the case.
And the Celtics are expected to give the Utah Jazz another call to see if there's a deal to be made that will reunite Boston head coach Brad Stevens with the best player he ever coached at Butler, former lottery pick and restricted free agent-to-be Gordon Hayward.
Utah is similar to Boston in terms of trying to rebuild their roster with a mix of young talent through the draft, so the chances of striking a deal with the Jazz for Hayward - for now at least - aren't good.
But the Rockets?
That's a different story.
Of all the teams sent home in the first round, the Rockets were arguably the lone squad that had legit title hopes going into the postseason.
They have a dominant post player (Dwight Howard), a high-scoring guard (James Harden) and a bunch of talented role players led by Chandler Parsons who remains the best bargain pound-for-pound, in the NBA.
But they don't have a player to bring all those pieces together, someone whose greatest strength isn't necessarily in what they bring to the floor, but what they bring out of other talented, upper echelon players.
Boston's Rajon Rondo would be an ideal fit for them and if there was ever a time for the Rockets to be motivated to pursue a deal, the time is now.
Any deal with the Rockets would have to be a combination of players that includes Omer Asik, one of the league's best rim protectors in addition to being a favorite of Celtics assistant coach Ron Adams when the two were both in Chicago.
Boston's inability to defend the paint with any kind of consistency was among the many reasons for the Celtics' 25-57 record. And while the Celtics are going to have a first-round pick in June's NBA draft that will be no worst than No. 8, the only true center expected to go that high is Kansas' Joel Embiid who isn't likely to slip outside the top three or four selections.
And the ping-pong ball gods as we know, have been anything but kind to Celtics in the past.
As for Houston, there has been a lot of attention paid to the talent that Rockets GM Daryl Morey has housed in Houston, but more attention needs to be paid to the windows; as in, windows of opportunity that are closing for them with each failed postseason journey.
Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck predicted "fireworks" this summer for the franchise's efforts in upgrading the roster.
Those words would ring true if Boston strikes a deal with Houston as a partner, with both teams hoping to spend as little time in loser's lounge as possible.