Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
You can add the Houston Rockets to that list after they were eliminated by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night by a 4-2 series margin. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein the Rockets will be looking to upgrade their roster this summer, and the Celtics’ point guard could be a target yet again.
It’s inevitable that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey will likewise check in with his old boss Danny Ainge in Boston — as he did before the trade deadline in February -– just to make sure Rajon Rondo isn’t suddenly available.
Welcome to crazy season part 2. It’s time for the standard reminder when it comes to this stuff:
1: A team calling doesn’t NOT equal Rondo being shopped. Everyone in the league knows the deal with Celtics players. And that brings us to…
2: Danny Ainge will accept all incoming calls and listen to the pitch. That’s his job. And he wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t take Daryl Morey’s call. You don’t know if he’s taken too much sizzurp and is willing to make a crazy deal.
3: Ainge taking the phone call DOES NOT MEAN PLAYERS ARE BEING SHOPPED… no matter what lazy headlines you see out there.
Rondo is the best player on the Celtics. He’s only making $12.9 million. Most teams will be interested in seeing what it would take to pry Rondo away.
Remember this about Rondo, though: He has a sort of no-trade clause… a.k.a. he just needs to say “I’m not signing an extension with you” and that will effectively kill most negotiations if they ever reach that point.
Danny Ainge always ask for a lot in trades. He’s going to ask for the moon in a Rondo trade. NO team is going to give up an Ainge asking price for a 1-year rental. They need assurances that he’s going to stay.
There’s a funny wrinkle here, though, and it might just end up making Rondo un-tradeable. For him to get the most maximum of maximum contracts, he HAS to become a free agent. That’s the way the rules are set up. He can sign an extension in Boston in July if he wants, but he won’t even if he’s dying to stay, because he’ll get more money if he waits to become a free agent and re-sign then. SO… he can’t guarantee any team that he’ll re-sign long-term, because no matter where he goes, he’ll have to become a free agent to get the big-time max money. And once you’re a free agent, you never know what will happen.
Will a team give up everything it needs to to get Rondo knowing that he will, without a doubt, become a free agent next summer? That’s a tough sell. I don’t know that any teams will risk pulling that trigger.
And as for the Rockets, I still don’t think they have what the C’s want or need. Chandler Parsons & Omer Asik for Rondo aren’t going to cut it. I don’t want Lin. I don’t want much else from them. I just don’t think Houston is where anything like this will get done.
Anyway, the Houston stuff aside, there’s a lot of stuff to keep in mind when it comes to Rondo. I’m starting to think that he’s going to nix trades by refusing to commit to anything long-term, even if they get to the advanced stages of conversation…. even though I don’t even think most conversations will get that far.
Page 2: It’s Pierce vs. LeBron… maybe for the last time
“I rank LeBron as one of the greatest players to ever play the game,” Pierce said. “A tremendous athlete, four-time MVP, two-time champion, he’s already passed so many greats that we still talk about. And when you play against the best, as a competitor, you want those moments.
“I consider myself a great competitor who wants to be in those moments, who wants to play against who people call the best,” Pierce added. “Just over the years matching up with him,Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, all the guys who were in my era who were great wing men, you want those moments.”
Now Pierce and Garnett will get to add more moments to this rivalry with LeBron.
If this is the last time the pair will get to play a best-of-seven together against James, the two will want to make it a memorable one.
“What can I say? His résumé speaks for itself,” Pierce said. “Right now, he’s the best player in the league and I think as a competitor you are always looking for that challenge and he’s the ultimate challenge.”
In my heart, knowing that this could be the last time this ever happens, I want to see Paul and Kevin celebrate on Miami’s home floor as they head to the Conference Finals. I want to see LeBron slumped in a chair on the sideline. I want to hear him say the words “It’s hard to win 3 in a row.” I want all that.
Of course, my head says the regular season matchups don’t matter as much as some people make them out to, and Miami is still the better team and will very likely move on.
I hope my head is wrong. I’m rooting for the story here. I want Pierce and Garnett to have one more celebration before they call it a career.
Related links: CSNNE: Pierce, KG have a big hand in Nets moving on
The rest of the links: