If a blockbuster trade goes down before next Thursday's NBA deadline, expect the Celtics to be in on it.

It has become increasingly clear that Boston has the most to offer any team that is looking to get rid of a borderline superstar player. In turn, the Celtics are in dire need of an "ace." There's nothing out there that is Kevin Garnett-level franchise altering, but two former playoff foes of the KG-era Celtics look to be on the block.

The Al Horford rumors came in hot and heavy this week, with Chris Mannix's report leading the charge. Horford, now 29-years-old, is a three-time All-Star. 

The risk that Celtics boss Danny Ainge runs is that Horford becomes a free agent this summer and Ainge has said in the past that that is problematic.

"We really don't want to get rid of multiple draft picks for players with uncertainty in the free agent market - a situation like we were in with Rondo," Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub in February of 2015.

Of course, the Hawks would want multiple draft picks in exchange for Horford. On the Horford front, the Pistons are a sneaky team to watch in the sweepstakes as Horford is quite familiar with the area having played high school ball in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Detroit has precious little to offer Atlanta but if a team like the Celtics balk and the Hawks are hell-bent on trading Horford than something could go down.

As for Dwight Howard ...

Mannix has been on the inside track of all things Celtics-related of late as he works as the team's TV sideline reporter. Mannix said just last week that Howard would not be heading to Boston due to the "asking price being too steep," but that was before this week's Adrian Wojnarowki story that said the Rockets are openly seeking a trade partner. Like with Horford, this could be a "who blinks first?" situation. If Houston cannot find a trade partner willing to ante up what it wants, the Celtics could swoop in at the deadline buzzer and offer a less-than-market value package for Howard.