The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics have engaged in "preliminary trade discussions" centering around Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, CBSSports.com's Ken Berger is reporting.
The deal "hasn't gained any traction," however, and Howard said during an All-Star media session that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak had told him that he would not be traded.
Making the trade even more of a long shot is the fact that Rondo is out for the season with a torn ACL and that the Celtics would not trade him without assurances that Howard, whose contract expires after this season, would sign with Boston long-term, Berger reports.
But discussions could continue even after the season ends, given that Howard has not shown any interest in signing a contract before then.
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.
Celtics GM Danny Ainge has considered trading Rondo in the past, as the organization has had difficulty managing his personality, according to Berger. The team has won eight of nine games during his absence thus far. The Lakers, meanwhile, could pursue the trade if they accept this season as a lost cause and begin preparing for the future. At 25-29, L.A. is 3.5 games behind the Houston Rockets for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, and Howard has not publicly shown interest in staying beyond this season.