By Ben Golliver
Less than 24 hours after a report indicated that Rajon Rondo would be available in advance of Thursday's trade deadline, the Celtics' All-Star point guard's agent squashed the idea.
USA Today Sports reports Wednesday that Bill Duffy, agent for Rondo, said that Celtics president Danny Ainge has informed him that his client will not be moved.
CSNNE.com reported Tuesday that Ainge played down the notion that his team would make a move.
"It looks unlikely that anything will be done," said Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations.
"There's been a lot of conversation around the league and we've certainly been busy at it," Ainge said. "Trades are very challenging to make."
Earlier Tuesday, ESPN.com reported that the Celtics are "willing to trade" Rondo "in [the] right deal." This despite the fact that Rondo recently suffered a season-ending knee injury and is signed to one of the league's most reasonable contracts for a star.
CBSSports.com reported over the weekend that the Lakers and Celtics had discussed a Dwight Howard-for-Rondo proposal, although Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak quickly shot down that report, according to ESPN.com. Kupchak has repeatedly said that Howard won't be traded.
Finding the "right deal" for Rondo at this point would be difficult. At 26, he has a title to his name, loads of playoff experience and is regarded as one of the premier set-up men in the game and a crafty defender. He's on the books for $12 million next season and $12.9 million in 2014-15, a very good value which is mitigated by the fact that he will likely miss a significant portion of next season as he rehabilitates from a torn ACL. Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game prior to his injury.
Rondo isn't particularly expendable. The Celtics lack a young point guard waiting in the wings and he's long represented the next chapter of Boston basketball once veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce head for retirement. While his lack of range, less-than-ideal ability to get to the free throw line, and hot temper are annoyances, he carried an injury-ridden Celtics to the brink of the Finals last year with several phenomenal postseason performances. Acquiring a starting-caliber point guard in return would seem to be a prerequisite for any deal and it's unclear why rival teams would swap a healthy point guard for an injured Rondo at this juncture of his rehabilitation. Firm no-trade assurances are rarely broken. Wednesday's report likely seals the Rondo trade talk for the time being. Check out The Point Forward's "Trade Deadline: Fact of Fiction" for more on the Celtics and check out Rob Mahoney's shopping list for all Eastern Conference contenders.