Ainge should go all the way

Updated: January 28, 2005, 2:57 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Thursday Chat wrap with Chad Ford

The trade rumors out of Boston are coming fast and furious. We're not talking about the overblown Walter McCarty-to-the Suns rumor.

What we are talking about is a growing rumbling around the league, including inside the Celtics, that changes ranging from small to radical could happen before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

It's no secret the Celtics are taking offers for Gary Payton and Mark Blount. Payton has been telling people he'll be wearing another uniform by the All-Star break, and team president Danny Ainge has never been a huge fan of Blount (which makes it tough to explain the six-year deal he gave Blount this summer).

But trading Blount and Payton for cap space and an obscure prospect or two are Band-Aids.

Shouldn't Ainge, who already has gone halfway with his extreme makeover of the Celtics, go the rest of the way?

The team is 20-22 and has as good a chance as any team to win the Atlantic Division and get a posh No. 3 seed in the playoffs. But what good does that do? The Celtics won't advance deep into the playoffs, and there are growing signs the pieces they have assembled, while talented, don't mesh well.

It is clear the Celtics are very high on Al Jefferson and Tony Allen, two of their first-round picks last June. They also remain supportive of Jiri Welsch, despite his struggles this season. Those three appear to form a solid nucleus for the future.

The Celtics have stated publicly that they have no intention of trading Paul Pierce, their only star and their most valuable trading chip.

But maybe they should trade him.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer