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Sorting Through the Rumors: Is Rajon Rondo Being Shopped?

Is Rondo head to New Orleans? Indiana? (nola.com)

It’s become an annual NBA offseason gala event, the Rajon Rondo trade rumors. In a way it makes a lot of sense: Rondo has a ton of potential, but at the close of every season he leaves fans and management wondering if he is truly a piece you can build a championship team around.

There have been a whirlwind of rumors over the last 3 days. Let’s sort them out.

The Rumors

SI.com reported Tuesday that Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge was “highly motivated” to acquire Chris Paul, the New Orleans Hornets’ four-time all-starpoint guard,. Sport’s Illustrated’s Sam Ammick confirmed that the Celtics and Hornets had discussed a Rondo-for-Paul swap.

ESPN the Magazine’s Ric Bucher said Wednesday that New Orleans wasn’t interested in a straight swap of the all-star guards. New Orleans made it clear that a third party would have to enter the scene in order for them to ship Paul off to Boston. According to reports, old friend Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers then got involved.

Yahoo! Sports’ reported that a potential deal  had apparently been hashed out between the Pacers and Celtics:

The Pacers and Celtics have discussed the preliminary framework of a deal, but two sources said Indiana would need a third team to provide Boston with the talent it wants to do a deal. The Celtics are likely trying to gather the necessary pieces to make a bid for Ainge’s ultimate target: New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, sources said.

It is believed that the NBA, the current owners of the Hornets, will be reluctant to sign off on a deal that sends Paul, the face of the franchise, anywhere. Indiana’s package would have revolved around guards George Hill and Paul George, several lesser players, and draft picks. While George is certainly a coveted player after his performance against Chicago Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose in last spring’s playoffs, he isn’t yet the type of player that would do what New Orleans needs most, fill seats.

ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported later on Wednesday that Paul’s camp said that in the event a trade was in place that would send the point guard to Boston, he would refuse to sign an extension with the team. This report essentially killed any notion that a deal could evolve around Paul for Rondo swap.

While it killed the suggestion of a Paul for Rondo swap, the news Paul was unwilling to come to Boston didn’t kill the rumors that Rondo was being shopped. Broussard also reported that Ainge had called Oklahoma City Thunder GM, Sam Presti, following the playoffs to offer Rondo and Jeff Green for Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins . Sam Presti turned it down and made it clear that Westbrook could not be had.

Finally, from ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg came this report:

The Boston Celtics have no intentions of trading point guard Rajon Rondo, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday, adding he wasn’t sure where the rumors insinuating he wanted to acquire New Orleans star Chris Paul originated this week.

Ainge said of the situation, “Rondo will be fine, Rondo knows that we love him. He knows that we like him. He’s excited to come back and play basketball, in my opinion. He gets a lot of attention. He’s a great player. There’s a lot of people that call me and ask me about Rondo. So, how these rumors get out, it’s unfortunate, but we didn’t leak those rumors out.”

The Reaction

So, who and what do we believe? Trade rumors and speculation are certainly part of sports journalism, and ‘sources’ can pop out of anywhere with exclusive info that spreads like wildfire but are grounded in very little fact. But some of Danny Ainge’s past moves and non-moves suggest he might not always known what’s best for his team, organization and fanbase. We remember the Ray Allen for Monta Ellis talks. How about the Rondo and Allen to Detroit rumors?

If there is one thing all these rumors tell us, it’s that Danny Ainge will talk. Chris Paul is a super star, and he wants to go to the Knicks to play with his friends. The Knicks are in the same conference and division as the Celtics, and already have two superstars in their respective primes. I would be shocked if Danny Ainge didn’t attempt to prevent Paul from even attempting to join the Knicks.

Are the Celtics shopping Rondo? Probably not. Does Danny Ainge hit the phones every couple months to test the market for all his players? Yes.

You can’t really blame him. After all: he’s the GM of an NBA team. He’s “highly motivated” to do so.

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