Can Danny Ainge Spread Some Holiday Cheer With a Blockbuster Trade?

Can Danny Ainge Spread Some Holiday Cheer With a Blockbuster Trade? The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in the hopes that Saint Danny soon will be there.

Danny Ainge, that is.

The holiday season is here, but the general manager of the Celtics has much more on his mind than just visions of sugarplums. The NBA trade deadline is now less than two months away, and the C's are running out of time to set their sights on that final piece of the championship puzzle.

One more impact player in the rotation could be the difference between championship banner No. 18 and another early exit from the Eastern Conference playoffs. Forget about toys in stockings; what the C's really need this winter is a big boost from the trading block. Here are a few hot gifts for this holiday season:

1. Andres Nocioni. The buzz about this one isn't going away anytime soon. The possibility makes too much sense to ignore — the Sacramento Kings are in rebuilding mode, and Nocioni represents $7.5 million worth of veteran talent that the Kings can deal. The Celtics have expiring contracts to offer in Tony Allen, J.R. Giddens and Brian Scalabrine, and in exchange, they would get a wing scorer to pump energy into their offensive game. They would also give the Kings financial flexibility when their dying contracts come off the books. Everyone wins.

2. Corey Maggette. The Golden State forward is piling up big numbers, as always — 17.0 points per game for his 10th consecutive year in double figures — but he's now in his thirties, and like Nocioni, he's stuck on a young team with little use for a veteran of his stature. Maggette is in a similar price range, too — for $8.9 million, he's a good value for an extra forward in the Celtics' rotation. If injury woes continue for Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce, the C's would be happy to have Maggette around.

3. Tyrus Thomas. The 23-year-old Bulls forward is a cheaper alternative to Nocioni or Maggette, and he's a perfect fit in Boston. Thomas is bigger, stronger and more energetic defensively than any other forward you'll see on the trading block this winter. You could make a case, in fact, that he's been the best defensive power forward in the NBA this season. The Bulls have been shopping him for some time, and he'd be a good fit in Boston alongside Kendrick Perkins on the front line. With a $4.7 million deal, the expiring contracts of Scalabrine and Giddens could be enough to pry him away.

4. Antawn Jamison. This one's a long shot, but you have to admit — the longer the Wizards continue trying and failing to put together a championship team in our nation's capital, the more likely it starts to look that that Wiz nucleus gets disbanded. Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler — how much longer will Washington keep its Big Three intact when it's not winning them a thing? Jamison is one of the most underrated players in the game and has been for some time, and the Celtics could surely use his scoring prowess and aggression down low. It might take a blockbuster, but don't rule it out.

5. David Lee. To put it simply, the kid is too good. He's playing himself out of New York; Lee is a walking double-double, and he's guaranteed to get paid big money when he hits the open market. The Knicks can't afford to both pay Lee next summer and make a serious run at a high-profile free agent like LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, and when push comes to shove, it's obvious which option they'll choose. The Knicks should trade Lee for something rather than let him walk in June for nothing — and any team that takes him had better be a contender looking to win with him right here and now. That could be Boston.

6. James Posey. Maybe it's a pipe dream, but this would be the Celtics' feel-good story of the year. Posey was a key cog in the Celtics team that captured Finals glory in 2008. His defensive muster, his spot-up shooting, his energy off the bench — all of it was a huge boost to the C's team that won 66 games and an NBA championship two years ago. So why not get him back? Posey is making just over $6 million this season, well within Boston's price range, and he'd be a good injury substitute for Pierce or Marquis Daniels in the rotation. The Hornets are in a down year and may well miss the playoffs, so why not unload Pose for some cap space?

There are some big trade pieces out there for the taking this holiday season. They won't all fit under a tree, and none is guaranteed shipped by Christmas morning.

But they could all help the C's win a championship. And while that may not be part of the legend of Christmas, it's what's most important. Let's see if Danny can round up his elves and his reindeer and spread the holiday cheer.

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