Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported last night that the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have had “preliminary discussion” regarding a trade that would send Rajon Rondo to the Lakers and Dwight Howard to the Celtics. This despite what we’ve heard from both organizations regarding their young stars.
Earlier this month, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told the LA Times that, “We will not trade Dwight Howard. We have no intention of making a trade”. And both Celtics President Danny Ainge and Celtics Doc Rivers spent all last season denying that they were shopping Rondo.
With all that said, of course minds can change. Especially since the two organizations were reportedly engaged in discussions in March about a Rondo-Pau Gasol swap. Which eventually broke down because the Lakers wouldn’t give up Gasol. So there may be evidence that the Celtics at least are willing to part ways with Rondo. But according to Berger, there are still two “significant impediments” to a Howard-Rondo deal.
First, as Howard said Friday, the Lakers continue to insist they won’t trade him, which sources say is the impression the Celtics have gotten, too. Second, Celtics president Danny Ainge would not trade Rondo without an assurance that Howard would re-sign with Boston as a free agent this summer, a league source said. Howard has shown no inclination to commit to anyone, including the Lakers, until the season is over.
Since the league source familiar with the discussions characterized them as preliminary, it’s possible that the talks could be tabled until after the season. In that case, Howard would have to agree to a sign-and-trade to the Celtics that would only yield him a four-year deal as opposed to the five years the Lakers could offer him (or the Celtics, if he were traded there by Feb. 21 and subsequently re-signed). The Celtics could only acquire Howard in a sign-and-trade if they eschewed their full mid-level and remained below the so-called luxury-tax apron, a threshold $4 million above the tax line that was added in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.
While the discussions have yet to progress, if nothing else, they open a potential avenue open for the Lakers to minimize the chances of losing Howard as a free agent and getting nothing in return. In other words, a fallback plan.
Really can’t fault the Lakers for trying to put together a fallback plan. Because as we all know, Dwight Howard doesn’t know what he wants.