The latest rumors surrounding Boston Celtics superstar point guard Rajon Rondo indicate that he may be headed to the Dallas Mavericks.
UPDATE: Saturday, June 29, at 8:10 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Boston Herald reporter Mark Murphy sheds more light on the Rondo situation:
Danny Ainge said last Thursday that he wasn't trying to trade Rajon Rondo, and two league sources backed him up today in the wake of a report that the Celtics president was in discussions with Dallas about his point guard.
"The Celtics haven't had any conversations with Dallas about Rondo," said one source. "That's ridiculous. There's no truth to it. What in the world does Dallas have to offer for Rondo?"
The second source pointed to the state of the Dallas roster.
"They're trying to rebuild around a 37-year-old Dirk Nowitzki," he said. "They have a lot of old expiring contracts, and that's about it."
---End of update---
Part of the reason the pursuit of Rondo is under serious consideration is because Dallas is also in the running to land Dwight Howard. The franchise figures that the addition of Rondo would enhance the recruiting pitch and therefore the odds of signing the center in free agency.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! confirms what Washburn is reporting and provides details from his own sources who say that Boston general manager Danny Ainge is angling to have the Mavericks absorb some of the Celtics' contracts:
Marc Stein of ESPN indicates that another team may have to hop in on the deal, given where the negotiations stand as of now, because the Celtics apparently want Dirk Nowitzki:
The salary cap is projected to be $58.5 million in the 2013-14 season, according to projections ESPN's Stein provided back in early June.
Dallas is currently slated to have roughly $44.3 million in player salaries on the books for this coming year, per HoopsHype.com. That figure does include qualifying offers to Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois and assumes Shawn Marion will pick up his $9.3 million player option.
Recent draft picks in point guard Shane Larkin and shooting guard Ricky Ledo are not included but won't affect the numbers substantially.
Thus, it is feasible that the Mavs could absorb several Celtic contracts and acquire Rondo. The fact that Larkin was acquired on draft night may spell the end for Collison, who claimed he could start for any team.
Another observation Washburn makes is that Larkin could be a piece in the trade to Boston, and Marion could be as well. He would give the Celtics at least a temporary replacement at small forward for the recently traded Paul Pierce, and Marion's expiring contract gives Ainge more cap flexibility heading into the following campaign.
Ainge did say on Thursday, per Washburn, that Rondo is at the core of what he plans to build the Celtics around, but that clearly isn't stopping the Mavericks from inquiring.
Point guard is a clear point of emphasis for the Mavericks this offseason, as evidenced by their pursuit of Rondo. However, a big man is also necessary, thus the coveting of Howard.
Rondo isn't the only option for Dallas, though. Sources tell DallasBasketball.com's Mike Fisher that the Mavs "have taken a position" on Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who will hit free agency July 1.
Fisher also states that the team is pursuing Sacramento Kings standout Tyreke Evans and talented Milwaukee Bucks floor general Brandon Jennings.
The only red flag with Rondo, from a basketball standpoint, is that he's coming off of a torn ACL, but he's in the discussion as the best pass-first point guard in the game and would make life easy for the Mavericks' top superstar in Nowitzki.
Playing pick-and-roll with Nowitzki would likely be even more fruitful than it was for the duo of Rondo and Kevin Garnett in Boston.
Combine the intimidating presence of Howard in the post and Rondo's ability to create for his teammates, and it's easy to see why the Mavericks are intrigued by this possibility.
Dallas is clearly looking to win one more title with Nowitzki in the fold, but he just recently turned 35, and time is running out.
If the Mavericks' scheme to snag Rondo results in a subsequent jackpot and gets Howard on the team, though, they will be instant NBA title contenders.