By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA Trade Deadline is just a few days away, and the Boston Celtics remain a team that needs some help. A lot of help.

So it appears Danny Ainge is exploring every avenue to help his team, including those that lead the way to risky blockbuster trades. While he’s long held the moniker “Trader Danny,” Ainge hasn’t made a gigantic splash in the in-season trade market since dealing for Isaiah Thomas in 2015, and even that was seen as a minor move at the time.

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Thomas had some time left on his deal when the Celtics acquired him from Phoenix, and it ended up being a buy-low, win-big deal for Boston. This time around, Ainge could be going after a player that they may not be able to keep next season: Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins.

And according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Collins isn’t the only Hawks player that Ainge is inquiring about:

Boston’s pursuit of Collins also involves another key Hawks rotation player, according to league sources: Bogdan Bogdanovic, whom the Celtics had some trade discussions about while he was in Sacramento. If the Hawks were to acquire Ball, maybe moving Bogdanovic would make some sense. Both Collins, 23, and Bogdanovic, 28, fit the timeline of All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are 23 and 24, yet are good enough to compete now. 

It’s interesting considering Atlanta just signed Bogdanovic to a four-year, $72 million deal ahead of the season. He’s been limited to just 17 games after suffering a fractured knee in January, an injury that sidelined the 28-year-old guard for two months. Bogdanovic is averaging a career-low 9.5 points off 39 percent shooting this season.

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The 6-foot-9 Collins is a bright young star, averaging 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds this season, but the price tag to acquire him is probably going to be pretty enormous. And if Atlanta is looking to also trade away Bogdanovic, then it would appear the team is in a cost-cutting mode, so it would take promising players on affordable contracts to get a deal done, not to mention a bunch of draft picks. The Celtics don’t have many assets like that to offer up, so it would likely require a bulky three-team trade to land this bounty from the Hawks.

There’s also the matter of Collins heading to restricted free agency this summer, where he’ll be looking for a max offer sheet from someone. Boston would have the opportunity to match any offer should they acquire Collins this season, but Ainge and Co. are up against the cap and it would likely mean trading Kemba Walker or Marcus Smart during the offseason. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday that the Hawks are interested in Smart, so he could be one of the many pieces involved in a Collins trade come Thursdsay.

The Celtics aren’t alone in their interest in Collins, with the Kings, Mavericks, Pistons, and Timberwolves inquiring about the forward, according to O’Connor. Given what it would take to work out a deal for Collins and/or Bogdanovic, and then all it would take to bring Collins back next season, a trade to the Celtics seems extremely unlikely come Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.

O’Connor also mentioned that the Celtics have shown interest in Orlando forward Aaron Gordon, along with the Rockets, Warriors, Timberwolves and Trail Blazers. Gordon is having an incredible 2020-21 season but is heading to restricted free agency in 2022. The Magic are looking to get a mix of young talent and first-round picks for Gordon, and the other teams interested in his services will be able to best any offer Ainge can make.

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At least it looks like Ainge is going to take some swings at the deadline. We’ll find out in a few days if he’s able to connect on any of them.

CBSBoston.com Staff