NBA Rumors: Potential Rajon Rondo Trade Makes Little Sense for Both Parties

The Rajon Rondo trade rumors are not going anywhere, folks, as illogical as they may be.

Now 28 years old, coming off a season in which he only appeared in 30 games and heading into a rebuilding season directed by second-year coach Brad Stevens, rumblings allege that the former Kentucky star would rather throw in the towel and move on than help in the rebuild.

According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, via Jay King of MassLive.com, Rondo has told the team he wants out:

“When Frank Isola raised the topic of trading Rondo, MacMullan replied, ‘Oh, I hope so. Just get it done. And it will happen because he’s told them he wants out. And no one believes me, but that’s the truth.’”

Of course, Rondo and his agent, Bill Duffy, quickly threw a counterpunch, as noted by Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

“‘Neither Bill nor Rajon know where this has come from, but it didn’t come from them,’ Alyson Furch said in a text. ‘They want this on the record. Neither has spoken to anyone about this.’”

Regardless of all the he-said, she-said drama, the notion that Rondo is on the block has been around for all of two years and counting. It is a thought that will only intensify as the 2014 season progresses now that he is in the final year of his deal, per Spotrac.

For the Celtics, that expiring contract is a critical part of the future as the rebuild rages onward. By the time the trade deadline rolls around next season, franchises who want to obtain Rondo will not have the means to do so and help the rebuild in an adequate manner.

If the front office waits until next offseason, it can cash in by facilitating his next deal as part of a sign-and-trade agreement. Rondo has apparently made it quite clear that he intends to test the market for the first time.

“Though he is not looking to get out of Boston, Rajon Rondo was quick to kill talk of an extension when recently approached by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge,” ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports (subscription required). “It didn‘t even get to the numbers stage. Rondo is looking forward to becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career in the summer of 2015.”

All of this completely neglects the notion that Rondo can return to form and re-up with Boston anyway. He was miserable on the defensive end of the court last season after his return, but one can surely presume it was more of a rust factor than his talent taking a nosedive off a cliff.

Which is something the Celtics should want to find out, rather than ship off a point guard who can be top five in the league.

For Rondo, a trade now makes very little sense. He would not get to test the market, and he has as little leverage as possible as he comes off a knee injury, not to mention the fact the Celtics just drafted Marcus Smart.

If the rumors have any shred of credibility, it implies that Rondo does not want to waste what may potentially be the remainder of his prime mired in a rebuilding effort. If that is even slightly the case, it means he would prefer to get dealt to a contender and ink an extension.

Question—where would that be, exactly? Cleveland (Kyrie Irving)? Oklahoma City (Russell Westbrook)? Los Angeles Clippers (Chris Paul)? San Antonio (Tony Parker)? Portland, Golden State or even Toronto?

It goes on, but the point is that even if Rondo wanted to ditch his home for the past eight seasons because of a bit of adversity, the grass is not exactly greener in other locales.

At least in Boston he gets to mentor and play with 2014 No. 6 overall pick in Smart. Jeff Green is still around after a career-best 16.9 points per game last season. In the paint, Jared Sullinger (13.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last year) and Kelly Olynyk (8.7 and 5.2) are quite young but present a core only in need of a mold before the Celtics can contend in the sloppy Eastern Conference (don’t forget about quality depth such as Evan Turner, Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass, either).

It might just turn out that Rondo finds his current situation much better than previously anticipated. As long as he holds up his end of the bargain in terms of health and on-court productivity, it will result in another major deal and a leadership role on a playoff squad.

Maybe a deal gets done. Perhaps Rondo is a member of the Celtics for the duration of his career. No matter how it pans out, the rumors as they stand now make no sense.

Point guard is not like the NFL’s quarterback position—there are a bevy of talented names in all corners of the league. Rondo has few desirable options on the trade market and a not-so-bad situation around him. The money will come regardless, should he stay on the court.

There is a reason all parties seem to vehemently deny such rumblings, not to mention why a trade seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind. As it should be, the upcoming season is in the front seat, not fantasy deals that involve a potential top-five player at his position.

 

Stats via ESPN.

 

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Dark Horses with Potential to Win Major NCAA Basketball Conferences in 2014-15

Every year, there are a few dark horses who end up winning regular-season championships in the major conferences of college basketball.

I mean, come on, how many people had Virginia beating Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse to win the ACC last year? And I don’t seem to recall anyone picking Villanova to win the Big East while we were busy handing the title to Marquette on a silver platter.

The teams on this list aren’t the favorites or the top challengers to the favorites. In most cases, these teams aren’t even expected to finish in the top three in their respective conferences.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen.

I wouldn’t go betting the farm on any of these teams to claim 2014-15 regular-season titles, but you just might find yourself with a dozen farms if you happen to bet on the right one.

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Biggest Potential Challenges Team USA Will Face During 2014 FIBA World Cup

Team USA has left the proving grounds behind them.

There are no more roster calls to make or “friendly” exhibitions to try to get up for. It’s wheels-up time as this group heads out to the 2014 FIBA World Cup with the same bull’s-eye on its back that it’s been wearing for decades.

Although not as heavy on established stars as it has been in the past, this talented team enters the tournament as an obvious favorite.

Still, that doesn’t mean a waltz to the championship podium awaits these players in Spain. There are hurdles lining the path ahead, and while some might be larger than others, any one could derail USA Basketball’s recent run of international dominance.

The tournament field is sure to throw at least one massive challenge at coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team, but most of these are internal obstacles that must be cleared. With a roster loaded like none other in the world, Team USA’s tallest tasks will largely come from within.

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5 NBA Players That Need a Trade to Fulfill Complete Potential

The NBA is a dream come true for the players who work hard enough to make it, but plenty still find themselves one trade away from being in the right situation.

For the five in this slideshow, reaching their full potential may be just around the corner, but getting there will be next to impossible with the teams they currently represent.

Whether it’s a logjam at the player’s position, an issue with management or just the need for a fresh start, there’s a reason to believe each one would be better off individually somewhere else.

They’re in order by age, and each has qualified for the list by being involved in some kind of trade rumor during the last year.

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Best Potential Free-Agent Landing Spots for Greg Monroe During 2015 Offseason

Greg Monroe might not be with the Detroit Pistons too much longer. 

As David Mayo of MLive.com reports, the big man hasn’t yet informed his team he’ll be accepting the qualifying offer, but that remains a distinct possibility: 

Neither Greg Monroe nor his agent has told the Detroit Pistons of the player’s plans to sign a qualifying offer and secure his unrestricted free agency next season, according to Stan Van Gundy, but a USA Today report that the big man intends to take that option could signal a short-term future for him with the team.

If he does sign that qualifying offer, he’ll play the 2014-15 season in Motor City before hitting the market once more, this time as an unrestricted free agent. And if that’s the case, it’s highly unlikely he’d end up returning to Detroit, even if the Pistons would be capable of offering him more money than anyone else.

Again, it’s worth noting that he’s not yet guaranteed to become an unrestricted free agent. That’s just a possibility, given the reports about that qualifying option. 

At least he’ll have plenty of strong choices if he does go down that often neglected route. 

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2014-15 NBA Rookies with All-Star Potential

The 2014-15 NBA rookie class is littered with high-upside picks, so there are a slew of prospects who could potentially become All-Stars.

Not all of them will reach their ceilings, but several will blossom into household names.

Outside of the usual suspects like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, this year’s crop offers a handful of talented prodigies who have a decent shot at scaling the All-Star hurdle.

Based on their collegiate/international production and transferable NBA skills, who exactly has the potential to reach this lofty status?

 

*Statistics gathered from NBA.com. Player order based on probability of making at least one All-Star team.

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Kobe on potential Wiggins trade: Cavs are making a mistake

TweetBefore Kobe Bryant became the superstar he’s been for the past decade-plus, he was drafted 13th overall in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and promptly traded to the Lakers for veteran center Vlade Divac. The rest as they say, is history. With the Cavaliers set to send top draft choice Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota for Kevin Love, Bryant is comparing the move to Charlotte’s blunder: Kobe Bryant: “ Cleveland is making the same mistake that Charlotte made with me ”. — 2014MrBasket (@2014MrBasket) August 14, 2014 Wiggins comes with some question marks as a rookie, similar to Bryant when he entered the NBA right out of high school. No one knew Bryant would go on to become unquestionably one of the best players in NBA history. Wiggins may not turn out to be int he same category, but then again he just might. No one knows for sure. Cleveland could be brokering losing a great future talent in Wiggins in exchange for winning immediately. It could turn out great for the Cavs, or they could live to regret i

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Potential Impact Players Still Available in 2014 NBA Free Agency

We’ve officially hit the slow period of the NBA offseason, as most rosters are close to being filled and the big fireworks have already gone off.

Even with that being the case, there is still a very strong pool of free-agent talent available, including a few players who could make a major impact next season.

Before we get to five of the best candidates, let’s explain why a few big names didn’t make the cut.

Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe has informed the Detroit Pistons he plans to sign his qualifying offer, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports. That would take him off the market.

We’ll also leave out free agent center Andrew Bynum, who may take this year off based on what his agent David Lee told Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The 7-foot Bynum may not be reuniting with Phil Jackson’s Knicks or any other team next season because he is seriously contemplating sitting out 2014-15 to undergo the Germany-based knee therapy called “The Regenokine Program’’ that would require an extra long rehab, according to his agent David Lee. But he could be in play for the following season.

“He would be looking at in a longer-term situation,’’ Lee said. “He’s still a baby. If he went to college, he’d be coming off his rookie contract at age 26.’’

Veterans like Elton Brand and Ray Allen barely missed the cut, along with riskier additions like Michael Beasley and Dante Cunningham. Each might make an impact but probably not on the same level as the following five free agents could.

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Best Potential Solutions to Detroit Pistons’ Greg Monroe Conundrum

It was never supposed to be this difficult. 

In their bid to return to the postseason after a five-year absence, the Detroit Pistons weren’t supposed to have any difficulty retaining restricted free agent Greg Monroe. With the 24-year-old having quickly established himself as one of the most consistently solid young big men in the game, new head coach and team president Stan Van Gundy initially sounded firmly committed to keeping him around.

But it’s unclear that the feeling is mutual. And in any event, it’s even less clear that the two sides will reach an agreement on dollars.

The Detroit Free PressVince Ellis reported that “the Pistons have moved from the initial five-year, $60-million offer and an offer that’s slightly better on a per-year basis than the four-year, $54-million deal that Josh Smith signed last summer is on the table.”

Ellis added that having failed to secure an agreement, “negotiations aren’t ongoing.”

Monroe himself subsequently suggested via Twitter that he hadn’t actually been extended an offer for five years and $60 million. 

Whatever the offer, Pistons owner Tom Gores told the Free Press‘ Ellis, “Of course we would like him to do that, but the fact is Greg has to decide what’s exactly right for him and he has great people representing him. We’d like Greg to get on board, but he’s got time to think about it and we should give him that time.”

So all we know at the moment is that talks haven’t been especially productive. 

For his part, Monroe has been in South Africa participating in the Basketball without Borders Africa camp, teaching kids from around the continent how to play the game.

Asked if his free agency had been weighing on him, Monroe told Sports Illustrated‘s Matt Dollinger, “Not very much, to be honest. It’s been great to get out here, relax, clear my mind and take this new experience in. I don’t listen to all of the reports and rumorsI’m just enjoying the fresh air.”

Regarding his contract, he added, “We’re still trying to sort things out. I’m really not sure what is going to happen, I’ve just enjoyed my time here, and it’s been nice to get away and do something positive with my time.”

If it doesn’t sound like Monroe is particularly excited about reaching an agreement, there may be a reason for that.

Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler wrote in July that, “The problem for the Pistons is that Monroe and his camp are not overly thrilled with the idea of signing a long-term deal at what they perceive to be less than market valuation.”

Monroe’s camp wants a short-term deal or a player option so he can hit the unrestricted market if he agrees to a lower dollar deal,” explained Kyler.

At the heart of the problem is apparent disagreement about just how much Monroe is worth. He’s durable and productive, but he’s also a predominantly interior scorer at a position increasingly dominated by stretch-4s or more athletic tweeners.

Complicating matters even further, Detroit signed Josh Smith last summer. Though the Pistons attempted to play him at small forward in 2013-14, he’s far better-suited to play the 4. In theory, Monroe could slide over to play center, but this franchise has no interest in demoting starter Andre Drummond and his seemingly unlimited upside.

It isn’t easy to justify a max contract for Monroe.

Last season he averaged 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per contest. Great numbers, but not the kind that instantly guarantee a max deal. Monroe isn’t an elite rim protector and plays most of his game below the rim, further casting doubt on the premise that he’s superstar material.

Indeed, Monroe finds himself in something of a contractual no-man’s land. 

He’s just indispensable enough to potentially name his price, but he’s not dominant enough to make the Pistons feel good about it.

With Monroe returning his focus to his future, the question now turns to whether there’s a way out of this deadlock.

In a perfect world, Monroe might get his money on a different team via a sign-and-trade arrangement. He’s productive enough that a club in need of some size might be more willing to pay the premium bill.

In theory, anyway.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier in July that “the Pistons have been willing to engage teams in sign-and-trade scenarios for Monroe, but those talks have gained little traction, sources said.” 

While the organization may not view Monroe as worth a maximum contract, it probably considers him worthy of a fairly stacked trade package. That could make a deal difficult to orchestrate, even if that’s the best direction for Detroit and Monroe alike.

The next-best option would be dealing away Smith, who’s owed $42 million over the course of his next three seasons with the club. Trading Smith for a true swingman would alleviate some of the dysfunction in Detroit’s rotation, potentially improving floor spacing and unclogging the paint where Monroe does his best work.

Moreover, the organization may find it easier to spend big bucks on Monroe without Smith’s contract also on the books—assuming it were able to exchange Smith for an expiring contract or two.

In July, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported that “the Detroit Pistons and the Sacramento Kings have resumed trade discussions on a deal that could send Josh Smith to Sacramento, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.”

Stein noted that “initial talks called for Sacramento to send Jason Thompson and either Derrick Williams or Jason Terry to the Pistons for Smith, but those discussions reached an impasse and were pushed into July along with the rest of both teams’ free-agent business, sources said.”

While Thompson has three seasons remaining on his contract, Terry’s expires after this season. Williams is set to become a restricted free agent after the 2014-15 campaign. Either scenario would trim Detroit’s salary commitments and make it a little easier to swallow a lucrative deal with Monroe.

Then again, the odds of a deal happening may be slim. According to Wojnarowski, “Van Gundy reached out to forward Josh Smith to tell him that reports of the franchise engaging in substantive trade talks with Sacramento centered on Smith have been inaccurate.”

Though various talks centered around Monroe and Smith seem to have gone nowhere, something will almost certainly have to give in Detroit. The franchise can’t afford to make such significant investments in a front line that simply didn’t pan out last season.

While Detroit’s worst-case scenario would be losing Monroe for nothing, that doesn’t mean more of the same is even remotely ideal—especially at a higher price point.

If all else fails, the Pistons should do what it takes to retain Monroe and revisit trade talks (for either Monroe or Smith) down the road.

The status quo isn’t sustainable, either in basketball or financial terms.

There’s more at stake here than Monroe’s contract situation. The future makeup of the Pistons hangs in the balance, and there remains plenty of work to do on that front.

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NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz Around the League Surrounding Potential Trades

Blockbuster moves have been bountiful during the 2014 NBA offseason, and on Thursday Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported possibly the biggest of them all—the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed a deal in principle that would allow All-Pro forward Kevin Love to become LeBron James’ new teammate.

The deal cannot be finalized until August 23 due to trade restrictions on No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins—one month must elapse from the time he signs his rookie contract before he can be traded.

Due to this waiting game, more rumors surfaced on the Internet in the aftermath of the news.

On Friday, Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News reported that the Philadelphia 76ers would be a third team involved once the Love deal is finalized:

A source informed the Daily News that the Sixers will be sending veteran forward Thaddeus Young to Minnesota for a package that will include [Anthony] Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The deal, which two sources have confirmed to the Associated Press, will not be official until Aug. 23, when Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 draft pick, becomes eligible to be traded.

That deal makes plenty of sense for the Timberwolves, as Young will be an immediate replacement for Love on a team suddenly in dire need of a veteran presence.

However, due to NBA restrictions, this deal may not fly. If a three-team deal with the Timberwolves and Cavaliers doesn’t work out, the Sixers could be left on the outside looking in, according to a tweet from Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times:

After all, according to a report from Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, league officials are closely monitoring the entire situation:

But sources say the Cavs and Wolves, knowing that league officials are monitoring this transaction closely, have been careful not to make any public acknowledgments that trade details have already been agreed to. That’s because Wiggins remains ineligible to be moved until 30 days pass from the signing of his rookie contract.

Rest assured, the league is paying similar attention to all subsequent deals.

That may not be terrible news for Young. According to an interview with Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com, the forward had no idea of any trade in the works as of Friday:

I know nothing as of right now. I have seen stories, but as of right now I haven’t heard anything. My focus is not on that. It is here at this camp with my son and the rest of the kids at the camp.

I still don’t know if I am leaving Philadelphia. This city has helped me grow and become the basketball player I am today. They let me know when I am doing bad, and they let me know when I am doing well. This city has made me stronger as a basketball player.

While the Sixers’ situation is very much in flux right now, the Cavaliers are continuing to build around their new big three, according to Windhorst and Stein’s report“Sources say the Cavs, meanwhile, are already touting Love’s arrival as a lure in hopes of closing free-agent deals with Shawn Marion and Ray Allen.” 

Allen has been rumored to be considering retirement over the offseason. However, according to a tweet from Chris Broussard of ESPN, the long-time guard could now be thinking otherwise:

Allen last played with James as a valuable role player with the Miami Heat.

As for Marion, Wojnarowski reported that the forward is strongly considering joining the Cavaliers:

Free-agent forward Shawn Marion is leaning toward signing a deal to join LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Marion, 36, has yet to formally agree with the Cavaliers on a deal, but that could come soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Last season with the Dallas Mavericks, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from downtown. He’ll prove to be a great addition as a rotational piece in Cleveland.

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