Is this the year Danny Ainge blows up the Boston Celtics?
It may be early in the season, but this question appears to arise every time the NBA trade deadline approaches. Although we're months away from said date, why not speculate what could potentially transpire?
After all, what are we if not considerate of recent history?
As of November 16th, the Boston Celtics rank 20th in the NBA in terms of points allowed. After smothering opponents and allowing just 89.3 points per game in 2011-12, the C's are giving up an average of 98.6 in 2012-13.
Before we jump the gun and claim that the Celtics will or will not break up their core, it is imperative that we acknowledge truths.
Not only are they one of the best in the Eastern Conference, but the Celtics remain one of the elite teams in the NBA. Point guard Rajon Rondo leads the league in assists and is rapidly approaching Magic Johnson's record of 46 consecutive games with at least 10 assists.
Paul Pierce, meanwhile, is averaging 20.0 points per game.
Even still, the basketball mastermind known as Danny Ainge could strike at any moment.
So could we see the Celtics' star-studded core broken up in 2012-13?
Always a Possibility
For those claiming that it is out of the question to speculate such a move, allow recent history to prove that it is not.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Boston Celtics nearly traded Ray Allen at the 2012 NBA Trade Deadline. The deal would have landed O.J. Mayo in Boston and sent Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Wojnarowski also reports that the Celtics were close to trading Paul Pierce to the New Jersey Nets. The Celtics would have received Mehmet Okur's expiring contract and what ended up being the sixth overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft.
According to a report via Chris Broussard and ESPN Boston, the Celtics were also "aggressively shopping" point guard Rajon Rondo. This means that Kevin Garnett was the only member of the Core Four who wasn't shopped around.
With this history of near-trades established, who's to say that Ainge won't look to strike a deal at some point this season?
Young Guns on the Rise
One season ago, the Boston Celtics would have been left with very little in terms of talent had they traded any of their leaders. Behind Paul Pierce was Mickael Pietrus, while Avery Bradley had not yet emerged as a viable replacement to Rajon Rondo.
Even still, it would be absurd to suggest that Bradley's defensive prowess could match Rondo's status as the best facilitator in the game.
As we progress through the early weeks of the 2012-13 NBA season, however, the Celtics are learning that they have a significant amount of young talent on the roster. Courtney Lee is capable of providing quality minutes at both wing positions, while Jeff Green has emerged as a future star at small forward.
With two upside-ridden rookies in Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, the Celtics appear to have built what could quickly become a contender.
With this confidence instilled in the minds of the Celtics brass, is it really so outrageous to fathom a deal being made? This season's performances aside, this is an aging roster that is preparing to see Pierce become a free agent in 2014.
Could preparing for the future be a possibility in Ainge's mind?
Bottom Line: Not Going to Happen
Danny Ainge is a basketball mastermind and an exceptional businessman. He will not sacrifice the potential for positive results if it means trading away a proven commodity.
And don't you dare try to compare Kendrick Perkins with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Should the right deal present itself, it would be foolish for Ainge to decline the trade due to personal allegiances. The fact of the matter is, KG remains one of the game's great leaders and Pierce is one of the legends of Boston sports.
To ship either out via trade would not only be detrimental to the quality of their current roster, but the morale of the local fan base.
Pierce leads the team in points per game, while Garnett is one of the few quality rebounders on the roster. Although the team is in dire need of an improvement on the glass, they could find that with rookie Jared Sullinger.
While a trade is always a possibility with Ainge as GM, the pieces are not in place to make a move. Are they?