Sources told ESPN's Marc Stein that the Houston Rockets have entered the conversation:
Sources familiar w/Rockets' thinking say HOU has absolute interest in trading for Rajon Rondo. But that alone doesn't mean we'll see a deal— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 19, 2014
UPDATE: Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 4:40 p.m. ET by Dan Favale
Sam Amick of USA Today has something to add regarding Houston's interest in Rondo:
Makes sense for Houston to pursue Boston's Rondo (and @ESPNSteinLine says Rox have interest) but I'm told the two teams have not spoken.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 19, 2014
More conflicting reports. What a surprise.
Keep an eye on Rondo, though. And the Rockets. And the Celtics. Just keep your eyes peeled in general, alright?
---End of update---
Unlike the Knicks, and many other teams, the Rockets have assets Celtics general manager Danny Ainge might actually want to look at. The problem is, one of those assets is Chandler Parsons:
Celtics, I'm told, would insist on Chandler Parsons in a theoretical Rondo deal. And Rockets, by all accounts, NOT willing to surrender CP— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 19, 2014
Boston has remained firm in its refusal to sell low on Rondo, so it makes sense the team would seek Parsons—who is averaging 17 points on 50.2-percent shooting this season—as compensation. It also makes sense that the Rockets are refusing to deal him, since he's one of their most deadly (and only) shooters.
Making Parsons untouchable impedes Houston's ability to assemble an enticing trade package, but doesn't kill it entirely.
The Rockets do have some interesting, albeit expensive, contracts on their hands in Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Stein named the Celtics as one of Asik's suitors in December, so he's a good starting point.
Houston can also offer a 2015 first-round draft pick. Ainge has made collecting first-rounders a priority since initiating Boston's rebuild last summer. Any proposal that includes an unprotected draft pick in the next two years is something he's likely to consider.
Boston has also lost some of its leverage in Rondo negotiations.
According to Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears, a potential deal with the Sacramento Kings that would have landed Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas and a pick with the Celtics had to be nixed because Rondo isn't interested in re-signing with Sacramento.
Chris Broussard of ESPN heard that similar circumstances apply to the Toronto Raptors:
Toronto would love to make a deal for Rajon Rondo, but I'm told Rondo would not re-sign a long-term contract in Toronto after next season...— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 19, 2014
As an unrestricted free agent in 2015, Rondo has some say in where he ends up via trade. If he seems inclined to re-sign in Houston, the Rockets have the upper hand in negotiations.
Which team can offer the best package for Rajon Rondo?
This is all assuming Ainge would actually move Rondo. His intentions are still unclear at this point.
"Again, I’ve gotten the impression, from everything that I know and from everything that I read, that what you read is a lot more than what’s actually happening," Celtics coach Brad Stevens told The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes.
Soon enough, this rumor will reveal itself as fact or another fantasy in a strand of many. Until then, it's safe to assume that this isn't the last Rondo-related chatter we'll be subjected to ahead of the Feb. 20 deadline.