BOSTON (CBS) — On Monday, it was reported that the Celtics and Magic were engaged in trade talks involving Orlando forward Aaron Gordon. A short time later, Boston emerged as the favorite to land the versatile forward in a deal that would involve Marcus Smart heading to Florida.

The Celtics are the frontrunners in the Gordon sweepstakes ahead of Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline, according to Matt Moore of The Action Network. Orlando is expected to bring this one down to the buzzer, so nothing is imminent at the time, but the two sides are talking. The Celtics have offered up a pair of first-round picks for Gordon, according to Moore, with Evan Fournier also in discussions to head to Boston. The Celtics would use their traded player exception to land Gordon, which require the trade to evolve into a complex system of moves since the TPE can only be used on one player.

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In addition to the first-round picks, which will likely carry some protection, the Magic reportedly want Smart in return. The Celtics are reluctant to part with Smart, the team’s defensive heartbeat, according to Moore.

The Denver Nuggets are also lurking as potential trade partners for Gordon, though Moore noted that no other team has ponied up two first-round picks in their talks at this point.

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While losing Smart would be painful for Celtics fans, Boston is in need of a move this season, sitting at 21-22 following Monday night’s loss in Memphis. The 26-year-old Gordon is averaging 14.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists for the Magic this season, and would fit right into Danny Ainge’s wish to acquire “size and shooting” at the deadline. Gordon is hitting a career-best 40.2 percent from three-point range this season, and would help Boston spread the floor for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

He’s also signed through 2022, so the Celtics would have a chance to evaluate his fit over the next season and a half, and potentially work out an extension with Gordon.

Fournier, 28, is averaging a career-best 19.1 points over his 24 games for the Magic this season. He would give Boston a solid veteran off the bench.

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The NBA Trade Deadline is at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

CBSBoston.com Staff