As Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge aggressively pursues possible deals for Rajon Rondo(notes), the Indiana Pacers have emerged as an intriguing suitor for the point guard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
For the past few days, Pacers officials – and third-party surrogates – have been making calls and gathering information and insight into Rondo’s reputation as a teammate and leader, sources said.
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(notes), sources said.
It was unclear if the Pacers had begun to reach out to broaden discussions, but there was an expectation they would do so.
The Celtics have been gauging Rondo’s trade value for more than a year, and have held discussions with teams about him across the past few trade deadlines and NBA drafts. There have long been divides within Boston's front office, coaching staff and locker room about Rondo. He can be moody, difficult and stubborn, and several league sources were dubious if the Pacers’ young coach, Frank Vogel, would have the stature to deal with Rondo.
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Boston could be trying to gather players to make a more attractive bid for Paul, sources said. New Orleans has shown no interest in a deal that would include Rondo and any combination of Celtics teammates. Yet, New Orleans GM Dell Demps is determined to get maximum value for Paul, if it’s clear the point guard sees his future elsewhere. Demps has no desire to simply let Paul walk away as a free agent to New York.
Most teams in the league are engaging New Orleans about Paul, whose intentions are to get to the New York Knicks as a free agent in the summer of 2012. Paul does have some history in Oklahoma City, having played there with the Hornets in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but the Thunder have resisted dialogue on a Paul-for-Russell Westbrook(notes) deal, sources said.
The Thunder are prepared to make Westbrook a substantial contract offer – probably a maximum deal – in the near future.