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The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets are both considering trade offers to acquire Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, according to reports that have surfaced over the weekend. Frank Isola of the Daily News mentioned the Knicks’ interest in an article published Sunday, saying that Rondo is their primary target as they look to trade away shooting guard Iman Shumpert.
Isola also revealed that Shumpert underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during the offseason. Shumpert, in his third NBA season, played only 45 games last year after suffering an ACL and meniscus tear in the 2012 playoffs, and is averaging 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds so far in 2013-14. As part of the deal, the Knicks would offer point guard Raymond Felton and center Amar’e Stoudemire, who also had knee surgery over the summer. Felton, in his second season as New York’s starter, is logging 11.1 points and 5.2 assists, while Stoudemire, a six-time All-Star, has been plagued by injuries in recent years and played only 29 games in 2012-13. So far this season, he’s made just six appearances, averaging 10.5 minutes.
For a number of reasons, this would be a terrible deal for the Celtics to make. Both president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens have said they want to build the team around Rondo, who has yet to make his season debut after tearing his ACL in January. While Shumpert was an All-Rookie First-Teamer in 2012, his stock has fallen significantly since his injury, and Stoudemire is unlikely to ever be the player he once was. The 29-year-old Felton, although serviceable, would be a huge downgrade from Rondo at the point.
The Rockets’ offer, on the other hand, could prove more agreeable. Houston is looking to trade center Ömer Aşık, who has openly requested to be moved after losing his starting spot to Dwight Howard. Aşık has seen his minutes per game drop from 30 last year to 20.7 in 13-14, with his scoring average falling from 10.1 to 5 and his rebounding from 11.7 to 7.2. In return for Rondo, the Rockets could be willing to include their current starter, Jeremy Lin, who is averaging a career-high 18.2 points per game.
Such a trade as this could make some sense for Boston, as it would provide the Celtics with an above-average starting PG as well as a good interior presence to help a frontcourt whose only true centers are two rookies. The issue, then, is whether Ainge is willing to deal Rondo at all, and the answer to that question seems to be no. Ainge is obviously thinking long term, as all his offseason moves were geared towards stockpiling draft picks for the future and not drastically improving this season’s team. By all accounts, the Celtics had plenty of opportunities to trade Rondo before now, and the fact that they haven’t come close to pulling the trigger could mean that they do, after all, intend to make this Rondo’s team once he returns to action.