Sources: Mavs In Trade Talks For Rondo
The Celtics are in the process of dismantling their championship-caliber core, with the shuffling off to Brooklyn of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for future draft picks. And while we're told that Boston GM Danny Ainge is informing Dallas he does not intend on continuing the strip-down by trading star point guard Rajon Rondo, the two parties continue to discuss trade scenarios, sources tell us.
Ainge and Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson have a long-standing and friendly relationship, so that might be a reason for the two teams to be exchanging ideas. Meanwhile, Mavs owner Mark Cuban is hinting at talks about a trade acquisition so large that it might preclude the "big-fish'' acquisition of Dwight Howard.
I asked one NBA source if Cuban's remark is intended as a smokescreen.
"Dallas, for all the right reasons, has 100 scenarios up on their board,'' the source said. "But scenario No. 1 is Dwight Howard.''
Previously, scenario No. 1 was Chris Paul. But Mavs officials tell me they are anticipating an official pronouncement from Paul that he's staying with the Clippers, thus saving potential suitors their time and effort there.
There are mathematical/legal ways for Dallas to acquire Dwight and Rondo, the sort of double-play that would greatly accelerate the Mavs' return to title contention. (Dwight could be signed outright with the trade-away dumping of the contracts of, say, Carter and Crowder. That would have to be done first. Then Marion would have to be a centerpiece of Dallas' offer to the Celtics.) Both of the players come with some baggage, however. For Mavs fans, Howard's issues are well-documented; he's eyeballed the Mavs for over two years, and therefore his game and his persona have been picked apart in this space.
Rondo? It's worth noting that even as he has averaged 11.1 points and 8.3 assists per game in seven NBA seasons while leading the league in assists the last two years and qualifying for the All-Star Game for four straight years, he has a reputation of being a challenge for coaches and teammates. He reportedly engaged in a fist fight with coach Doc Rivers two years ago.
Also of note: Rondo's agent is Bill Duffy, who also represented Steve Nash back when Nash and Cuban clashed. That's not a positive here. and there is Rondo's recovery from a torn ACL. The Celtics have said they expect him back for training camp, but there are no guarantees there.
But he is a unique talent, a fiery competitor, and at 27, has room to grow. Rondo is just 6-1, but has top-notch defensive skills. He's under contract for two more seasons at $12 million and $13 million. (Those numbers would render the Mavs' roster options beyond Dirk/Dwight/Rondo very limited, by the way.)
Meanwhile, as the Mavs pick through other point guard options (from draftee Shane Larkin to old friend Devin Harris to recent AAC visitors Gal Mekel and Nick Calathes), sources tell DB.com that Dallas is quite convinced two other players of interest – Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings – will solicit on-the-market offers as restricted free agents. The Kings' Evans and the Bucks' Jennings are mentioned by some as candidates for simple accepting their present teams' offer sheets in order to play one more season in their respective cities and then be full-fledged FAs next summer.
That's not the way the system usually works – and the Mavs believe that's not the way it will work for these two players, both of whom have long been on Dallas' radar. Look for both Evans and Jennings to be in play this summer. Those guys will be looking for -- and almost certainly taking -- big money from someone from a list of teams that can include Dallas.
UPDATE: Mavs officials will be in LA starting Monday to engage in meetings (starring Dwight, with whom they have a scheduled Tuesday engagement). Evans will also be in LA under the supervision of agent Arn Tellem. We haven't confirmed a Mavs meeting there yet, but we now know that at least one Mavs official believes the Kings and Tyreke are mutually interested in him staying in Sacramento under the terms of a long-term deal.
The most optimal concept? Expirings and picks for Rondo. Yes, it's one of 100 Mavs avenues. And yes, Ainge is on the record as not wanting to move him. But …
"If Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are tradeable,'' Ainge said this week, "then I guess everybody's tradeable.''
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