But the combination of Smith's likely contract demands this summer -- Smith publicly stated he felt he was a max player -- and his history of uneven behavior in Atlanta has the Hawks ready to move on, according to league sources familiar with the team's thinking. Atlanta GM Danny Ferry has shrewdly positioned his team to have cap flexibility this summer, and bringing back Smith for big dollars isn't in the plans. Yahoo! Sports reported that Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Phoenix are the frontrunners for Smith while two rival executives believe Boston and Dallas remain in the mix.
USA Today first reported Duffy's conversation with Ainge.
Rival executives believe Boston is open to trading Rondo, but his knee injury -- which will likely sideline Rondo for parts of next season -- diminishes what the Celtics can get in return. Similarly, Boston is willing to part with Pierce but only at the right price. The Brooklyn Nets, who discussed a deal for Pierce with Boston last season, are interested and the Celtics have discussed a Pierce-Smith headlined deal with Atlanta, which would unite Smith and Rondo, who are close, with the Celtics.
Still, it does not appear that Boston is getting the offers it wants for its top talent.
"We've been very consistent," Kupchak said. "We're not trading Dwight Howard. He will not be traded, and there's nothing that anybody can do today to call me today and ask me, 'Would you do this?' and get a positive result."
Most of the speculation about Howard being moved has been media -driven, and despite Howard's continued desire to play in Brooklyn, the Lakers intend to play this out into free agency and effectively dare Howard to leave $25 to $30 million on the table by walking away to Dallas or Atlanta.
One more thing: Philadelphia isn't aggressively shopping Turner because the front office still wants to see how the team performs when Andrew Bynum comes back. Turner is one of several players on the Sixers roster who will benefit from a strong low-post presence.