In the NBA, the biggest trade months of the year are January, February and July.

Obviously things heat up around the trade deadline in the winter, and things tend to get crazy after the draft and during the infant stages of free agency. But things, big things, can go down just before the start of the season as well.

In fact, Danny Ainge’s first major trade as the Celtics' boss came on Oct. 21, 2003 – just days before the tip of the 2003-04 season – when he dealt Antoine Walker and Tony Delk to Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch and Chris Mills.

Now, that move by Ainge was clearly made in an effort to take a step backwards before moving forward. The organization is in an entirely different spot right now than it was then, and it’s also in an entirely different spot than it was in the days and weeks before it acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in 2007.

The Celtics started training camp this week with a better roster than they had when they fell to the Hawks in May. The addition of four-time All-Star Al Horford alone did that. And whil Horford is a top 20 player in the league, he isn’t a transcendent player like a Kevin Durant or a Garnett.

So now Ainge must make a decision. Does he try to add one more B-plus or A-minus player, another Horford or Isaiah Thomas –level player, in an effort to get to a level like the 60-win Hawks from 2014-15 or – at best – the 2004 championship Pistons? Or does he continue to wait it out for one of these A-listers to become available?

 

DeMarcus Cousins: ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said Wednesday that he doesn’t think there’s “any interest right now in the [Kings] organization to trade DeMarcus [Cousins].”

And why would there be? The team has a new coach in Dave Joerger and is ready to see if Boogie can finally thrive in Sac Town.

 

James Harden: Expect Harden’s name to quickly pop up in trade rumors if he and Mike D’Antoni clash. The reason the mid-2000s Suns worked so well under D’Antoni is because their leader – Steve Nash – bought in fully to D’Antoni’s system. Who knows if Harden will be game?

D’Antoni has already made Harden the full-time point guard in Houston, which means there will be a great adjustment period for Harden and the entire team. Will Harden fold again like he did last season if the Rockets get off to another slow start?