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It’s no surprise that Masai Ujiri may have something big up his sleeve as the trade deadline approaches. While Ujiri has said that he hasn’t had many conversations lately, it sounds like he may be having a talk with Danny Ainge in the days to come.
This would be an excellent move for Toronto, for several reasons. First, Rondo would be an upgrade for them and he would make the Raptors an interesting team heading into the playoffs. They are currently the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and this would only increase the likelihood of Toronto making a deep postseason run.
Also, Rondo would make Kyle Lowry expendable. Unless Lowry would be sent to Boston, the acquisition of Rondo would allow the Raptors to do a subsequent trade that returns some assets for Lowry while his value is at an all-time high and before he could walk as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Finally, Rondo could also turn Toronto into a player in free agency this summer, since he would be on the team next year as well. A lot of players would be interested in playing with Rondo, an excellent defender and pass-first floor general. One specific player who has ties to Rondo is Carmelo Anthony. Remember, Anthony had been recruiting Rondo to join him in New York, according to the duo’s high school coach. Toronto only has $39,273,626 in guaranteed contracts next season (and that number could get even lower after the Rondo and Lowry trades), so Rondo and Anthony could team up on the Raptors if they desired.
Wouldn’t that be something if Ujiri was the executive to steal Anthony away from New York?
Here is another interesting Rondo rumor that tells us a few things:
The fact that these talks got so far along that Rondo was asked if he’d be willing to re-sign with the Kings means that the Celtics are having pretty serious discussions about moving Rondo. Despite the fact that Danny Ainge has said that Rondo isn’t going anywhere, it sounds like he can be moved for the right price.
The Kings are definitely a team to watch as the deadline approaches. They’ve already made one huge trade this season by acquiring Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors. Now, it seems that Pete D’Alessandro and his staff want to hit another home run (and they have the assets to do it).
Although Isaiah Thomas has had a huge year for the Kings, this suggests that Sacramento still isn’t sure if he’s their point guard of the future. If they can find an upgrade, they’ll pull the trigger.
Most of the moves that we’re going to see at this year’s deadline will probably look a lot like this. This isn’t going to be like 2011 when we saw Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams traded within 48 hours. There just aren’t many stars on the table (the previously mentioned Rajon Rondo is the only hope of a big name being moved), so this year’s deadline deals will likely feature a lot of role players – much like last season’s deadline.
As far as the actual trade, it makes sense that both teams would be open to mixing things up.
Minnesota entered this season with playoff aspirations, but the team has struggled and been injured. The clock is ticking for the Timberwolves to improve and make the postseason, because they need to show Kevin Love that they can win before he becomes a free agent. Bringing in Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen – two veterans with a ring – is definitely a way to show Love that they’re serious about winning now.
Memphis expected big things this year too, since they were coming off of last year’s Western Conference Finals run. However, they got off to a slow start and currently find themselves out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Scoring has been an issue for the Grizzlies, so bringing in J.J. Barea to provide instant offense off of the bench makes sense, and Budinger would be able to replace Prince in the starting lineup.
Woj adds that Memphis is interested in the deal because they want to unload Prince’s ugly contract and Minnesota is interested because they want to add defensive toughness to their roster.
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