Originally posted on Celtics 24/7  |  Last updated 12/7/11

Even if the past three months have consisted of nothing but exhibition games and stock footage of David Stern talking business, there’s been plenty of time to mull over potential free agent options for the Boston Celtics ahead of Christmas day.

For one, there’s Dwight Howard if your credit card is big enough. Or two, there’s the marked down version of Howard — Chris Paul, who is equally as desirable from a team perspective.

Headlines broke on Tuesday, and they were definitely out of left field. If you think Celtics and trade rumors, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen is first to mind– not Boston’s 25-year old point guard Rajon Rondo.

That’s what the Celtics have come to, though. Shopping the future for another piece to the championship window, even if it means breaking up chemistry for talent like the New York Knicks attempted a year ago.

The trade is pretty simple, or at least the rumor is. Offer Rondo and Jeff Green (plus a draft pick of course) and in return receive Chris Paul to take one last crack at raising banner 18 while the team is still fresh.

Or, you have the other Danny Ainge blueprint that has apparently been discussed. Offer the Golden State Warriors Rondo for Stephen Curry, and eventually acquire Chris Paul through some kind of multi-package deal that would satisfy Dwight Howard if he were seriously interested in joining Paul in Boston.

Either way, Rondo looks to be the lead-off man.

But really, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ainge use Rondo as bait, yet never trade him in the end. The point in swapping Rondo for another point guard who only really holds an advantage in points per game seems a little crude, not to mention losing Jeff Green and a couple of draft picks in the process.

There is some positive to come from the rumor though, especially if you’re a fan that likes to see Ainge play moneyball. Those that are tired of hearing about the Lakers free agent rumblings are most likely glad to see Ainge keeping his ear to the ground and taking interest in big signings. The lure of a whole new team come Christmas day is also an intriguing prospect after last year’s playoff disappointment.

For the less patient fan, Ainge’s latest plan may not be so welcome. If Rondo does indeed wind up somewhere else in exchange for Paul, the tail end of the plan is to entice Dwight Howard come next summer, and set up another superstar roster in as little time as possible.

Really though, the long term seems a little farfetched. Aside from the financial restraints that would be placed on the team, there is still no solid big man answer with no Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis or Sasha Pavlovic to point to as starter.

Rondo is most likely the big seller in this situation. Get agents talking about Boston and a last dash title run with Garnett, Pierce and Allen, and then allow players to decide on a future away from Los Angeles or Chicago.

Unless Rondo gets shopped overnight like Perkins and Nate Robinson, the next 17 days should feature a lot of “what ifs”.

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