Dallas Mavericks Rumors

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Rondo, Mekel, Conley

December 19 at 3:31pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Rockets were runners-up in the Rajon Rondo sweepstakes, but they’re set to land Corey Brewer, whom they’d reportedly been targeting for a while. Brewer is excited to reunite with Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who was behind Minnesota’s decision to draft Brewer seventh overall in 2007, as the swingman tells Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. Still, Brewer made it clear wasn’t anxious to leave the Wolves and never asked for or wanted a trade, Zgoda tweets, which seems to conflict with an ESPN.com report indicating that he had requested that the Wolves send him to a contending team.

“Kind of mixed emotions just because I really love Minnesota,” Brewer said to Zgoda. “People don’t understand how much I love Minnesota. I wanted to end my career here. That’s why I signed back here. I thought it’d be possible, but I understand we’re going young. It’s going to be a few years, but the Wolves have great, young talent.”

Brewer, who has a $4.905MM player option for next season, can hit free agency this summer. Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • New Mavs point guard Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston, friend and former teammate Kendrick Perkins says, as Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports notes via Twitter. Rondo made several public statements indicating his fondness for the Celtics prior to the trade.
  • It’s unclear whether Brewer waived his player option as part of the Rockets deal, but Chase Budinger indicated that he wouldn’t do so with his $5MM player option when the Rockets gauged whether he would, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities hears (Twitter link).
  • Troy Daniels is disappointed that he’s leaving the Rockets as part of the Brewer trade agreement, he tells Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston, though he added that he’s hopeful that he’ll see more playing time in Minnesota than he has in Houston.
  • Pelicans coach Monty Williams confirmed that the team isn’t ruling out a new deal with Gal Mekel, whom New Orleans waived earlier today, observes Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune (Twitter link). That jibes with this morning’s report from David Pick of Eurobasket.com that the Pelicans hope Mekel clears waivers.
  • Mike Conley is a bargain for the Grizzlies, making just slightly more than $8.694MM this year on a contract that expires after next season, and an Eastern Conference executive tells Chris Mannix of SI.com that the point guard would garner at least $14MM annually on the open market.

How The Rajon Rondo Trade Worked Financially

December 19 at 1:05pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Celtics, at least on the surface, didn’t reap a package for Rajon Rondo that at all resembles what the Timberwolves received for Kevin Love this past summer. Rondo, who’s two and a half years older and nine inches shorter than Love and is averaging only 8.3 points per game, isn’t quite the sort of player that Love had proven to be when Minnesota relinquished him, but the Celtics surely wanted more for him than Dallas gave up. Boston was reportedly seeking as many as three first-round picks for Rondo at times over the past year or so, but the C’s reaped only one, and the deal weakened their cap flexibility for next season, since Jameer Nelson holds a player option worth $2.855MM for 2015/16.

Still, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge deftly crafted a trade that allowed him to use as many as three trade exceptions to create a new $12,909,090 trade exception that instantly becomes the league’s largest. Ainge and his staff took Brandan Wright‘s $5MM salary into the $5,285,816 trade exception that they created in their Keith Bogans trade and Nelson’s $2.732MM salary for this season into the trade exception left over from the deal that sent Joel Anthony away, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders points out. They folded Jae Crowder‘s $915,243 salary into either the remainder of the Anthony exception or the $1,334,092 that was left over from the original $4.25MM exception they created when they gave up Kris Humphries in a sign-and-trade with the Wizards this past summer, Pincus also notes.

Its unclear which path they took with Crowder, since there are benefits to both. Using the Anthony exception for Crowder preserves the $1,334,092 still on the Humphries exception, a larger amount than they’d have if they used the Humphries exception and left the Anthony exception at $1.068MM. But that’s not much of a difference, and the Anthony exception expires nearly three months later than the Humphries one does. Whichever exception Crowder’s salary went into would be reduced to an amount that’s less than the full-season minimum salary for a rookie, making it largely unusable.

The Rondo trade also allows the Celtics to create a $507,336 exception for Dwight Powell. That exception, equivalent to the rookie minimum salary, is only slightly more useful than whatever remains of the exception that Crowder’s salary went into. It’s nonetheless difficult to rule out much when it comes to Ainge and the use of trade exceptions, as this deal demonstrates. The trades that created the Humphries, Anthony and Bogans exceptions all took place within the last five months. Those transactions seemed to matter little at the time, since none of them netted the Celtics a player who remains on the roster, but collectively they gave Ainge the ammunition needed to enhance the Rondo deal. By contrast, the Mavs didn’t possess any trade exceptions entering the deal, and they needed to use all of their outgoing salaries to make the matching math work so they could absorb Rondo’s salary.

The first-round pick headed from Dallas to Boston, which will probably end up coming in the latter half of the 2016 first-round, given the protections attached to it and the Mavs’ prospects for success, isn’t necessarily the best asset that the Celtics acquired in the deal. Instead, the Celtics can use their trade exception to acquire a player or group of players who make as much as $13,009,090, or $100K more than Rondo’s salary for this season, anytime between now and next December, without sending out matching salary in return. It’d be difficult for Boston to pull that off now, since the team is still about $7MM shy of the luxury tax line, but the Celtics will have more leeway come the offseason. Indeed, the Rondo trade gives the C’s a little more breathing room beneath the tax threshold for now, since they were only about $2MM shy of it prior to the deal.

There are no guarantees that teams will be able to use trade exceptions at all, much less to use them to net star players. Still, they give teams power to make maneuvers they otherwise couldn’t. For now, that’s the greatest benefit the Celtics have reaped from parting with their point guard.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Mavs Front-Runners To Sign Jermaine O’Neal

December 19 at 11:14am CST By Eddie Scarito

DECEMBER 19TH: Dallas has an “undeniable edge” in the competition to sign O’Neal, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Mavs’ acquisition of Rajon Rondo has intensified O’Neal’s interest in joining the team, Stein indicates, noting that the 36-year-old O’Neal lives in the Dallas area and has long hoped to play close to his home. Dallas has an open roster spot following Thursday’s trade, one that left the club thin at center.

DECEMBER 12TH: Free agent Jermaine O’Neal has been has been weighing his options on whether to return to the court this season or simply call it a career, in a situation similar to that of Ray Allen. Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link) reports that O’Neal is likely to make his decision in January. If O’Neal does indeed decide to return to the hardwood for his 19th season in the league, he’ll have no shortage of suitors, Stein reports in a separate tweet. According to Stein, numerous contending teams would be interested in adding O’Neal to their rosters, including the Warriors, Cavs, Clippers, and Mavericks.

O’Neal had a solid season in Golden State last year, averaging 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in a little over 20 minutes per contest, which was good for a respectable 15.3 PER rating. His career averages are 13.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 1.8 BPG.

Golden State would seemingly have a leg up on the competition for O’Neal’s services, since the team has been in regular contact with O’Neal since the 2013/14 campaign came to a close. Although, back in September, GM Bob Myers intimated that his team would be content to stick with Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, and Ognjen Kuzmic at the pivot. But with Golden State out to a blistering 19-2 start to the season, which is tops in the NBA, returning to Oakland would seemingly be more appealing than ever for O’Neal. It would also be a wise move on the franchise’s part given Bogut’s injury history. Golden State also happens to have an available roster slot, so the team wouldn’t need to release a player to accommodate signing O’Neal.

Out of the rest of the contending teams mentioned in Stein’s tweet, Cleveland could also be an intriguing proposition for O’Neal, though the Cavs would need to release a player to be able to sign him. With the Cavs gunning for a title this season, as well as badly needing interior help, O’Neal may look at the easier path to the NBA Finals in the East as a viable alternative to returning to Golden State.

Rajon Rondo Trade Fallout/Reaction

December 19 at 9:54am CST By Chuck Myron

The Rajon Rondo trade stands to have an immediate effect on the Western Conference playoff race as well as the long-term future of the Celtics, who for many years were an Eastern Conference contender with Rondo. We’ll be rounding up the news still trickling out about the blockbuster trade throughout the day, with any new items added to the top:

  • There’s no shortage of confidence among Mavs officials that they can re-sign Rondo, a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, who adds that obtaining Rondo will make it easier for the club to reach a new deal with soon-to-be free agent Tyson Chandler (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers planned a final offer of Steve Nash, the protected 2015 first-rounder that the Rockets owe the Lakers, and a second-round pick, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports.
  • The Celtics were asking for as many as three first-rounders for Rondo at times in the past year or so, multiple league sources tell Lowe for the same piece.
  • Brooklyn was also in the mix for Rondo, but the Nets simply couldn’t make a deal work, a league source tells Robert Windrem of NetsDaily (Twitter link).

8:59am update:

  • Rondo spoke publicly about his fondness for Boston even in the hours before the trade, but privately the soon-to-be free agent was torn between remaining with the Celtics and joining a contender, a source tells Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). Still, Rondo didn’t tell the Celtics about the way he felt, Murphy adds in a second tweet.
  • The Celtics had decided that it would have been nearly impossible to compete this coming summer with other teams that could offer Rondo a better chance to win, sources tell Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The C’s weren’t sure they wanted to engage in a bidding war for a player who turns 30 in the middle of next season, Bulpett adds.
  • The desire to complete a deal in advance of two months prior to the trade deadline, giving the teams the power to flip their incoming players in a deal that aggregates their salaries this season, wasn’t a major factor in the timing of the deal, Bulpett also hears. The Celtics were convinced that the offers would get no better and might worsen if they waited, and they didn’t see any better offers earlier in the process, either, sources tell Bulpett.
  • The Knicks couldn’t have relinquished a first-round pick that would have gone to the Celtics any sooner than 2018, and that’s largely what torpedoed any chance New York might have had of trading for Rondo, as Mark Berman of the New York Post hears. Still, Knicks brass is divided on how well Rondo would fit within the triangle offense, Berman adds.

Western Notes: Craft, Gasol, Ledo

December 18 at 10:09pm CST By Eddie Scarito

NBA executives are growing increasingly intrigued with guard Aaron Craft, who is currently playing in the D-League for the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s affiliate, Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio reports (Twitter link). Craft was in training camp with the Warriors this season, and was considering a contract offer from Partizan Belgrade of the Serbian League back in November, but he chose to remain with Santa Cruz rather than head overseas.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Spurs seem poised to chase Marc Gasol in free agency this coming summer, but there’s little call for them to go after a replacement for Tim Duncan when Duncan continues to demonstrate that he can still play at a high level, opines Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • The Mavericks have assigned Ricky Ledo to the Texas Legends, their D-League affiliate, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com reports (Twitter link). This is Ledo’s fifth excursion of the season to the D-League.
  • Mavs owner Mark Cuban believes the most difficult choice a team owner has to make is selecting a head coach, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. Cuban said there are different kinds of coaches for different kinds of jobs, including jobs that may inherently not be long-term fits, Sefko adds. “What do you expect [from coaches], and are they living up to it?” Cuban said. “Is it wins and losses or player development? How many coaches do you know that they knew the team was going to be down [before taking the job]? We’ve all heard about coaches who were brought in and were there to take the beating until they turn things around. You hear about that all the time. I haven’t been in that position, fortunately. And it takes one type of coach rather than another.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Mavs Acquire Rajon Rondo

December 18 at 8:52pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Mavericks have acquired Rajon Rondo from the Celtics, the teams announced in a pair of press releases. Also heading to Dallas in the swap is Dwight Powell. Boston receives Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, the Mavs’ 2015 first-rounder if it falls anywhere from No. 4 to No. 14, as well as a 2016 second-round pick. If Dallas doesn’t send out the first-round pick in 2015, it’ll be top-seven protected from 2016 through 2020. The Celtics create a trade exception worth $12,909,090, the equivalent of Rondo’s salary. To accommodate the transaction, which otherwise would have left the Celtics with 15 players, the Celtics waived Vitor Faverani. The unbalanced deal leaves the Mavs with an open roster spot.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers

“We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in the team’s statement.

This deal came together rather quickly after a report revealed last night that Ainge was willing to deal Rondo. Numerous teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Knicks, Kings, and Pacers showed immediate interest, though Ainge was said to be looking to deal Rondo to a Western Conference team if at all possible.

With Rondo set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and 2014 first-rounder Marcus Smart showing quite a bit of promise, trading Rondo instead of running the risk of losing him for nothing became Ainge’s best option. The Celtics had been hesitant to commit to the idea of a maximum-salary deal for Rondo, something he will likely be seeking in free agency. Rondo and his representatives have reportedly told the Mavericks that the Bill Duffy client would be inclined to sign a new deal with the team this summer, something that was likely a priority for Dallas before the team agreed to the swap.

The trade marks the end of Rondo’s eight-plus seasons in Boston, and signals that the Celtics are heading into a rebuilding phase rather than trying to retool and find another star player to pair alongside the 28-year-old guard out of Kentucky. Rondo’s career averages, all with the Celtics, are 11.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.5 assists, and 1.9 steals. His career slash line is .473/.252/.614.

In adding Wright, the Celtics address one of their biggest weaknesses, which is interior defense. The  27-year-old big man is averaging 8.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game this season. His career numbers are 7.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.0 blocks per contest. His career shooting numbers are .610/.000/.686. Wright, who is making $5MM this season, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Losing the 6’10” Wright leaves Dallas dangerously thin behind Tyson Chandler, which will be a concern going forward, and it could require the Mavs to make another roster move to correct the problem.

Crowder is a 24-year-old wing who is set to become a restricted free agent this summer. In a little over two seasons in the league, the former Cavs second-rounder has averaged 4.6 PPG and 2.3 RPG. His slash line is .411/.331/.710. He’ll likely compete with rookie James Young for playing time. There could be more minutes available if Ainge decides to deal Jeff Green, as he is reportedly contemplating, though Ainge has issued a denial about shopping him.

The 32-year-old Nelson has been nursing a strained shoulder this season, but has still appeared in 23 contests, all as a starter. He is making $2,732,000 this season and has a player option for 2015/16 for $2,854,940. It remains to be seen if he’ll assume the starting duties in Boston or if the team will hand over the reigns to Smart, whom they drafted with the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft. Nelson’s career numbers are 12.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 5.3 APG. His career slash line is .441/.374/.817.

Receiving the 6’11” Powell isn’t likely to solidify the Mavs’ depth in the frontcourt. He is signed through next season, but his $845,059 salary for 2015/16 is non-guaranteed. In five games this season, the rookie is averaging 1.8 points in 1.8 minutes per game. Powell has spent more time in the D-League this year than with the big club in Dallas.

Faverani hadn’t appeared in a game this season, as he is still recovering from offseason surgery on his knee. The 26-year-old big man from Brazil is still at least a month away from being able to practice, and even further away from being ready for game action. In 37 career appearances, all with the Celtics, Faverani has averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest. Faverani’s $2.09MM salary for this season will stick on Boston’s books, but the Celtics avoid paying his non-guaranteed salary of $2.18MM for next year.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images. Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link) first reported the deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports added that Powell would head to Dallas and that the Celtics would waive Faverani, as well as details about the protection on the first-rounder headed to Boston (All Twitter links). Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders noted that the Celtics would be able to create a trade exception (Twitter link).

Rajon Rondo Rumors: Thursday

December 18 at 4:55pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Celtics appear to have turned up the heat on Rajon Rondo talks, as several reports from Wednesday detailed. We’ll round up today’s latest in this post, with any additional updates throughout the day added to the top:

  • According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links), Dallas and Boston are progressing toward completion of a trade for Rondo tonight. The Mavs would send Wright, Crowder, Jameer Nelson, a future first round pick, and a future second-rounder to Boston, Stein adds.
  • The Rockets have dropped out of trade talks with the Celtics, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tweets.
  • Rondo and his representatives have made it clear to Dallas that the All-Star guard would be inclined to sign a new deal with the team this summer, Wojnarowski adds.

4:25pm update:

  • The first-rounder Dallas is offering as part of its package for Rondo is its 2015 pick, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).

3:58pm update:

  • While the Lakers are in the hunt for Rondo, there is a strong desire in Los Angeles’ front office not to give up too much now for him via a trade, and instead, they would prefer to pursue Rondo in free agency this summer, Chris Mannix of SI.com reports (Twitter link).
  • The Mavs are emerging as the frontrunner in pursuit of a deal to acquire Rondo, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).
  • Dallas is currently offering a package that includes Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, and a first round pick, Wojnarowski adds.
  • The Lakers and the Knicks both declined to be a part of three-way deals that could have sent Rondo elsewhere, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • With Dallas in the lead for Rondo, the Rockets are “still fighting” to land Rondo, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link).

2:31pm update:

  • The Lakers made an offer that included Jordan Hill and a first-round pick, if not more, for Rondo and Jeff Green, but the Celtics turned them down, according to USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link). The Lakers would have indeed had to have added more salary to such a deal to make it work, and Hill isn’t trade-eligible until January 15th.

2:21pm update:

  • The Celtics are asking too much for Rondo for the Kings to engage in talks about him with Boston as they have in the past, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). A report late Wednesday seemed to indicate that Sacramento had spoken recently with the Celtics regarding the point guard, but it’s unclear just how long ago the teams last discussed the matter.

12:51pm update:

  • The Lakers have offered Steve Nash and multiple picks to the Celtics for Rondo, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com hears (Twitter link).

12:36pm update:

  • The Mavs are confident that they can convince Rondo to stay in Dallas for the long term if they convince the Celtics to trade him, sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link). That falls in line with Berger’s report from earlier that Rondo would be open to re-signing with the Mavs and Rockets if he were dealt to either team.

10:57am update:

  • The Rockets have been pursuing Rondo longer than the Mavs have, but Goran Dragic was more attractive to Houston than Rondo was over this summer, Stein notes (Twitter links). Rondo and Dragic both appear likely to hit free agency in the summer ahead.

8:59am update:

  • The Mavs have advanced to the offer stage and have made a pitch featuring Brandan Wright as the key piece, reports Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. Dallas would have to add others to make the salaries match. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has begun to move on from the idea of pairing Rondo with another superstar, spurring his apparent interest in gauging deals for Rondo, but the market for Rondo doesn’t appear as strong as Ainge had hoped, the Herald scribe writes. However, Ainge is in no rush to simply accept whatever he can find for Rondo just so the point guard doesn’t leave the C’s empty handed in the coming summer’s free agency, Bulpett adds.
  • Jae Crowder‘s name has also come up in talks, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • Rondo is open to re-signing with the Mavs and the Rockets if the Celtics trade him to either of those teams, a source tells Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. It’s “certain” that the Rockets will use their nearly $8.375MM trade exception by Friday, Berger writes, as they’ve reportedly been trying to do, and that stands to alter what Houston has to offer for the Celtics point guard.
  • The Lakers are among the teams to have chatted up the Celtics in recent days about a Rondo trade, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, seconding an earlier report that the Rockets had done the same. The Lakers and the Knicks are on the “periphery” of Rondo talks, and the Lakers are more of a free agency option than a potential trade destination, as Berger adds in his piece.
  • The Pacers have also asked the C’s about Rondo, USA Today’s Sam Amick reports.
  • Rondo reiterated his fondness for Boston late Wednesday to reporters, including Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com“How many times do you want me to say it?” Rondo asked. “We discussed it on media day. My thoughts and my opinions as far as the organization [haven't] changed, so … I’m enjoying life. You can’t win ‘em all, but these guys are funny, I’m young and I’m doing what I love to do. It’s a dream come true. I can’t be upset about anything, really.
  • Ainge was vague in addressing the latest Rondo chatter in this morning’s radio appearance with Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb on 98.5 The Sports Hub (audio link), as Rohrbach passes along (Twitter link). “I wouldn’t say it’s any different from any year,” Ainge said. “… We’re having a lot of discussions, just like we do every year.” 

Pacific Notes: Villanueva, Kings, Kobe, Suns

December 18 at 1:13pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Clippers have won 11 of their last 13 games and sit at 18-7, but they’d still be without home-court advantage in the first round if the playoffs started today. That helps explain why they reportedly remain interested in Corey Brewer, among others, given how high the bar is set in the Western Conference. Here’s more on the Clippers and their Pacific Division rivals:

  • Rick Carlisle‘s willingness to personally conduct workouts for Charlie Villanueva helped sell the veteran on signing with the Mavs this summer when the Clippers were also in hot pursuit, Villanueva said recently on Google Plus, as the Dallas Morning News transcribes. “Not to take nothing away from what the Clippers and Doc Rivers [are] doing, but it just felt right with Rick,” Villanueva said. “It was just a feeling. I went with a feeling in my gut and I feel like I made the right move.”
  • TNT’s Kenny Smith is among the names “floating around” for the Kings head coaching job, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com, though it’s unclear whether he’s truly a candidate. Smith had conversations with the Kings about a front office position in 2013, as he told Sam Amick of USA Today at that time.
  • Mitch Kupchak offered a little more wiggle room for the idea that Kobe Bryant would play past the expiration of his contract in 2016 when the Lakers GM spoke this week with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio (audio link), observes Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Kupchak earlier this month appeared to dismiss the notion of a prolonged career for Bryant.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged that he and Suns owner Robert Sarver have had conversations about a new arena in Phoenix, observes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Sarver raised the issue publicly earlier this year, though Silver on Wednesday cautioned that he doesn’t believe there’s an “imminent” need for a new building, Coro notes.
  • The Warriors have recalled Ognjen Kuzmic from the D-League, the team announced. It was just a one-day stint for the center, who juxtaposed an impressive five blocks against a paltry three points in 28 minutes of action Wednesday for Santa Cruz.

Celtics Willing To Trade Rajon Rondo

December 17 at 10:19pm CST By Eddie Scarito

10:19pm: The Celtics are also talking to the Knicks and the Kings, though the discussions with the Mavs are the most serious, Stein reports. The Mavs would most likely send Wright and at least one first round draft pick to Boston for Rondo, Stein adds.

9:15pm: The Mavericks are serious suitors for Rondo, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link). Brandan Wright and Monta Ellis are among the players being mentioned who could potentially head to Boston, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com notes (Twitter links). The Rockets have also discussed a potential deal for the point guard with Boston as well, Wojnarowski adds.

4:29pm: According to Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link), word around the league is that the Celtics are the ones making preliminary calls to teams about Rondo. Mannix also notes that the Kings are the team to watch in regards to acquiring Rondo.

4:12pm: The Celtics are showing a renewed willingness to pursue trade packages that include point guard Rajon Rondo, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. According to Wojnarowski, Boston’s front office has left a strong impression with rival organizations around the league that it is prepared to make a deal that includes the veteran guard. Boston has been engaged in discussions described as “serious” in recent days, but no trade agreement is imminent, the Yahoo! scribe adds.

Trade discussions involving Rondo have been focused more toward Western Conference teams than with those in the East, Wojnarowski notes. The Celtics’ asking price for the 28-year-old remains “pretty high, probably higher than most want to pay,” one league official told Wojnarowski. Rondo is averaging 8.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 10.6 assists in 31.8 minutes per games this season.

Celtics GM Danny Ainge has been consistently shopping forward Jeff Green, in an attempt to secure a trade package that includes a first-round draft pick, Wojnarowski notes. With Boston now seemingly willing to trade Rondo, this would suggest that Ainge is prepared to embark on a full rebuild of the franchise, and perhaps attempt to guide the team toward a much higher spot in June’s NBA draft, Wojnarowski writes.

With Rondo set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and 2014 first-rounder Marcus Smart showing quite a bit of promise, trading Rondo instead of running the risk of losing him for nothing would seem like a wise move on the organization’s part. The Celtics have been hesitant to to commit to the idea of a maximum-salary deal for Rondo, something he will likely be seeking in free agency.

If Ainge is indeed looking at Western Conference teams, the two most likely suitors would probably be the Kings, who were previously said to be interested in acquiring Rondo, and the Lakers, another franchise also known to have significant interest in the point guard’s services. If Boston decides to try and deal with an Eastern team, the Knicks and the Pistons would immediately come to mind as potential suitors, though that is just my speculation.

Western Notes: Howard, Daniels, Mavericks

December 13 at 9:41pm CST By Arthur Hill

The injury-plagued Rockets welcomed center Dwight Howard back to the court Saturday, and guard Patrick Beverley told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle he expects a smooth transition. “I don’t see anything but good things to happen with Dwight,” Beverley said. “I’m excited. Our team is excited. Our coaching staff, they’re very excited. I know our fans are excited. We’re starting to get some healthy guys back. That’s a big key right now.”

There’s more Western Conference news:

  • Rockets guard Troy Daniels has always been a sharpshooter, but Feigen writes that his shot is suffering due to a shortage of playing time. Daniels has connected on just 25.6% of his three-pointers this season as he battles for minutes. He was able to sink a pair of threes Thursday in a comeback victory over the Kings“Nobody wants to sit on the bench and just watch your teammates,” Daniels said. “At the end of the day, it’s part of being a young guy. I’ve been learning since I’ve been sitting over there, so it was a great opportunity for me to get out there and just do what I do.”
  • The Mavericks shouldn’t be taken seriously as Western Conference contenders until they start beating other contenders, opines Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. The Mavericks have an impressive 17-8 record, but Saturday’s loss to Golden State left them 0-6 against the other teams currently in the West’s top eight. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” guard Devin Harris said. “We’re beating the teams we’re supposed to, but we need to elevate the team as a whole. We need to grow as a team.”
  • Despite a 5-17 start, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor can see a brighter future, writes Charley Walters of The St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota is likely to miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season, but with young talent like rookies Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, Taylor believes better days are coming. “This year, knowing that I have [coach Flip Saunders], knowing we have some really good resources, I just understand we’re going to go through part of our growing process,” Taylor said. “For some reason, I’m more accepting of it. I haven’t found myself feeling terribly sad or terribly uncomfortable. I’m more patient.”