By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are expected to be active at this year’s NBA trade deadline, and this time around, Danny Ainge is actually expected to swing a trade. Orlando’s Aaron Gordon is the latest player connected to Ainge’s quest to improve the Celtics this season.

The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Shams Charania reported on Boston’s interest in Gordon on Monday, with Weiss reporting that the Celtics have been “engaged” in trade talks for the versatile forward who now wants out of Orlando. It’s a fairly crowded market for Gordon though, with the Rockets, Timberwolves, Nuggets and Trail Blazers also interested in adding him ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, according to Charania.

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What would it take for Ainge to strike a deal for Gordon? Quite a bit. The Magic are reportedly looking for “multiple first-round picks or a pick with a good young player,” according to Weiss’ report. The Celtics are a little short on both fronts, with only their own future firsts to offer up in a deal. Those picks will likely (hopefully?) fall outside of the lottery, making them a lot less appealing than picks from the Rockets and Timberwolves.

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But that massive traded player exception that Ainge has in his back pocket may come in handy if the Celtics want to add Gordon this season, allowing Ainge to take on Gordon’s contract without having to agree on an extension or match outgoing contracts in the deal. Gordon is signed through next season, making $16.4 million, before becoming a free agent in 2022.

Gordon, 26, is a versatile player on both ends of the floor, and is having the best all-around season of his career averaging 14.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He’s doing all of that while hitting 44 percent of his shots overall and 40 percent of his shots downtown.

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Adding Gordon this season would balloon Boston’s payroll next season, which is a domino that Ainge will have to weigh pushing over now in order to help this year’s squad. But you can now add Gordon to the long list of players connected to the Celtics ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, and now we’ll wait to see if Ainge actually pulls the trigger on an in-season trade for the first time since 2015.

CBSBoston.com Staff