Agenda gossip: trying to get into Ainge's phone

This is always a crucial time of the year. Usually our Celtics have an impressive record by this time but it feels as if the way towards the playoffs hits an uphill road. Our team is a veteran one, and we have been plagued by injuries ever since it was created in this current form. In the last four seasons we have seen vital players such as Garnett, Pierce or Perkins miss some games during this period. By the end of January we feel that the All Star break can't arrive soon enough.

Our team has really played solidly to get this 33-10 mark, which has delivered us the first position in the Eastern Conference against hungry and young teams like Miami and Orlando. We have reached our current position while battling through a snowfall of injuries so you tend to imagine how sweet it would be to have all our roster healthy. And yet, even though we haven't had a full available roster in the whole year you also get the feeling that we may never give Eddie Lacerte and his colleagues a well deserved two week holiday to Costa Rica.

But let me remind you of something:  we are a month away from the trade deadline. Feeling that we are actually about to get Perkins and Delonte back may have made you forget about the surely increasing cloud of call and sms activity in Danny Ainge's phone.

So let's try to picture Danny's life in the next four weeks. He will probably be awaken by some late calls from his staff in the middle of the night and his sleep habits will be altered by the different time settings in the US. His ears will become used to the touch of his cell phone and different voices will fill him with new scenarios. His brilliant brain will probably like some and neglect many others. One thought will introduce the next one. As in a chess virtual match-up with some other GM, the next move may create other options. Some moves are just a hint and the game never ends. Sometimes it never really starts. Frustration, hope, silence and telephone madness.

Welcome to Danny's world.

There are two perspectives in every conversation Ainge will have from this moment on: what do we need, and what will others may want in exchange.

Let's start by talking about this last part. Obviously teams will ask for core players such as Rondo and the members of the Big Three. At that time, I believe Danny has an option in his cell that automatically transfers the call to his secretary. Don't panic: no big trades will be made. Ainge has a core of players that are the soul and spirit of this team alongside coach Doc Rivers. Apart from the aforementioned individuals, I believe Perkins, West and Daniels are also part of the plan. I guess Danny will receive special interest in Perk because of his upside, his low contract and his status as a free agent in six months. But unless some fairy tale trade is offer, Perk will be a Celtic forever. West will probably be offered an extension in the summer, he is a Celtic and a Rivers guy. And we simply need Marquis. He is too versatile a player in this team. He doesn't complain, he plays more than decently and he makes other players better.

Then, as you may know deep inside you, the names of Harangody, Bradley, Erden or Wafer won't be mentioned in any of these calls. When a fan thinks of a potential trade, I am sure he wouldn't mind looking at the bottom of the roster and pull a deal. But let's not forget the first rule of the trading madness: you have to offer something valuable in order to keep a conversation going. Nobody will ask about these players. They might be part of another deal, the last pieces to complete something, but not the main part.

So that leaves us with three realistic names: Jermaine, Davis and Nate. O'Neal is nearing the end of his career and his knee probably has a June expiry date. This is probably not a good thing when the playoffs get nearer. Of course, Perk will be a starter for then but we need to give his knee some time. As hard as Perkins works, the logical way of thinking is that he may not be the same Perk until next season. And yes, Shaq has been huge for us, but he is also 38. With Perk and Shaq together we have no fear, but as a team manager I believe Danny must be getting ready for plans B, C and D in case of trouble. He may be forced to trade JO after all. Why would teams do it? For salary purposes, a future buyout...and though JO is not a free agent in July, I am getting more and more certain that we will see his last games this season.

The main names will in any case be Glen Davis and Nate Robinson. Davis is ending his contract and although he has got a huge upside, I am not sure whether the team is willing to pay him the money he may ask for. Negotiations for his previous deal were a little tough and we know Danny tends to be a tough negotiator with young players (see Tony Allen and Leon Powe). Both Nate and Baby can surely play the game and they have nice contracts in a potential deal. So these are the players that may more likely be included in any trade during the next month.

Provided there is a deal...let's not forget that since 2007 Danny has only had minor trades in February. Precisely, the only major move was the Eddie House for Nate deal last year. There were some WTHHT related deals with Sacramento concerning Cassell, cash and some details. So probably Danny will do nothing after all.

Let's face now what Danny may be interested in, provided teams ask for these names we just mentioned. Exploring our team latest history of trades we can see that Danny has worked with New York, Sacramento, Seattle, Minnesota, Portland and Phoenix as of late. The Knicks are now a playoff team in our same conference, the Blazers, Suns and Wolves management has changed, and Kevin McHale now works for the television. The Kings have a too young team, and a deal for Thompson, Casspi or Landry will not add too much into our equation. Nate and Davis know the system and they are equally talented. Same with the Thunder, who are in another town, under a different name and in a different situation since our Ray trade. Lakers (Payton trade)? Don't even think about it. Memphis? Don't be cruel...I am not sure of who would want to help the C's become better in this league.

In any case, this is about business and there may be some good deal out there with a no contender that makes both better.

I have thought of some scenarios:

1. Phoenix trade: Pietrus and Warrick to the C's for Baby, Nate and Von

In this trade we get an athletic big forward and a quality defender with some shooting ability. Pietrus is not playing at all for the Suns and they could certainly use Nate's shooting and Baby's talent there. Realistic? Maybe

2. Houston trade: Battier to the C's for Baby and Nate

We finally would get a quality back up for Pierce, moving Marquis to the SG position or even some PG quality time. Battier would fit here for many reasons: IQ, defense and shooting. Baby and Nate are young and talented...fair deal? I guess it is tough to say. We would need to get another big about some apparently retired player that is still in the Boston area? ;) Just kidding...or not?

3.  Detroit trade: Prince to the C's for Baby, Nate, Wafer, cash/pick

I have tried many combinations and none virtually works, but Prince would be awesome here. He is not in Detroit's future and he can still play. He is versatile, talented and can play the game. His price may be too high, but we know the Pistons want to get younger and cheaper.

4.  Indiana trade: Dunleavy to the C's for Jermaine and Davis / Nate

Alright, we know Larry was a cleverer player than Danny and also that we got nothing out of the Marquis Daniels negotiations two summers ago. But Indiana is not playing well and they want to free Dunleavy from their roster. I would also like Foster, but I don't think he'll leave Indiana. We know Jermaine said he wants to retire a Pacer, so this may be the only deal he would like. But would Bird want this? Not likely...but I bet he likes the Davis prospect. We may be forced into a bigger deal and this may likely go nowhere but Dunleavy would provide a solid shooter from the bench that we surely need.

5.  New Jersey trade: Murphy to the C's for Jermaine and Nate

The Nets are in trouble after their failed negotiations with Denver and they may feel the need to do something quick. Murphy is not playing there and he could help our bigs here with shooting and offensive JO's place. Does it make us better? That is the question. I'd rather trade for Outlaw but the Nets just got him.

I am sure there will be many ideas and scenarios out there...both in your brains and in the real conversations between Ainge and the other GM's in the next months. And while most likely no moves will be made at all...what is in your mind?

In the meantime, I have faith in Ainge.