The Boston Celtics woke up this morning tied for the third seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to a recent stretch in which they've won 8 of their last 10 games including last night's 104-103 win in Cleveland.
Stocked with young players and enough draft picks to make Bernie Sanders think it's time for the government to start taxing such assets, Danny Ainge not only has built a playoff team but also has the capital to significantly upgrade his team into a contender for the NBA Finals.
Rumors have been swirling around Blake Griffin of the Clippers, who is recovering from a broken hand suffered when he got into a fight with a team employee, and Al Horford of the Hawks, who is going to be a free agent at the end of the season.
Armed with multiple first round picks and cheap young talent, now is the time for Ainge to capitalize and make the Celtics a legitimate threat to the Cavaliers in the East.
With the Clippers sinking in the West - they are currently fourth but will likely fall lower with Griffin out - and the Hawks possibly looking to cash in on Horford, Ainge can manipulate a move to help Los Angeles and Atlanta reboot while making his own team a contender.
Ainge can flip David Lee's expiring contract to the Clippers along with Jared Sullinger and James Young and the first round pick owed to Boston from the Mavericks while also sending Terry Rozier to the Hawks along with Boston's own first round pick in this year's draft. In this three-way deal, Atlanta will send Horford to the Celtics and Jeff Teague to the Clippers while L.A. will move Griffin to Atlanta and Paul Pierce back to the Celtics.
The Clippers get out from Griffin and instantly become a factor in free agency this summer while Atlanta adds a star in Griffin in exchange for Horford, who they risked losing for nothing this summer. Both teams also add a first round draft pick.
Boston rids itself of some redundancy and adds focus to the roster for Brad Stevens to form into a contender by Spring time.
A starting five of Amir Johnson, Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Isaiah Thomas with a bench of Marcus Smart, Pierce, Kelly Olynyk, and Evan Turner - with Jonas Jerebko or Tyler Zeller as additional big man depth - is enough to get to the Eastern Conference Finals this year and possibly win the Conference. With Ainge holding on to the unprotected first round pick from the Nets in this deal, the team is also set up to add a potential impact player via the Draft in June and would be the lead candidate to sign Horford, who would be in position to compete for championships in Boston.