Report: Mavericks and Celtics in ‘substantive discussion’ about Rajon Rondo trade

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BOSTON – The Celtics are reportedly considering trading Rajon Rondo.

Again.

“It’s a way of life since I’ve been here,” Rondo said.

Rondo said he hadn’t spoken with Boston general manager Danny Ainge or anyone else from the front office since the latest round of rumors came out.

But the Celtics are reportedly talking with the Mavericks and Rockets about Rondo, who could leave Boston as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Boston Celtics, after years of flirting with potential Rajon Rondo deals, are in substantive discussions on a trade that would send Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Celtics and Mavericks have been discussing a swap that would furnish Boston with multiple draft picks — including at least one future first-rounder — as well as blossoming Mavericks center Brandan Wright and other players needed to make the salary-cap math work.

Sources say the Celtics also have been talking to teams such as the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks about potential Rondo deals‎, but that the most advanced discussions so far have been with Dallas.

Rondo would be an awesome fit with the Mavericks, who are scoring at a historically high rate with Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris running point. No offense to those two, but Rondo would be a huge upgrade.

He could create jumpers for Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons, who’d space the floor in return. Rondo could also run pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll with Tyson Chandler, a great finisher at the rim. Defensively, Dallas could use Rondo’s ball-stopping on defense.

But it’s difficult to see what the Mavericks would give up.

They just signed Chandler Parsons this offseason, made him feel at home and bragged about their commitment to chemistry. Other than Parsons, Dallas doesn’t have a single starter younger than 29 (Monta Ellis). Even its sixth man, Harris, is 31.

Trading Rondo for Brandon Wright and Raymond Felton would meet the league’s cap rules, but that’s obviously not enough for Boston. The Mavericks would have to add a draft pick or two – or three. At least Dallas has all its upcoming first rounders.

Wright, 27, has been extremely successful in limited minutes in Dallas, where he fits the system to a T. His $5 million salary would likely be necessary to facilitate a deal, but his contract is expiring. Do the Celtics think they could get similar production from him in a larger role? Do they think he’d re-sign? Those questions could go a long way in determining whether this deal gets off the ground.

Then, there’s just the matter of haggling over draft picks, no easy task.

The Rockets have a larger collection of young talent – including Patrick Beverley, Donatas Motiejunas, Tarik Black, Kostas Papanikolaou and Terrence Jones – but no single player who wows. Houston also has a valuable first rounder incoming from the Pelicans as a result of the Omer Asik trade.

The Mavericks have been down this road before without finding a deal. So have the Kingsand the Knicks, who don’t have the assets to trade for Rondo now. The Rockets seem to discuss every available player in the league.

The smoke here doesn’t necessarily equal a fire (or a fire sale).

For his part, Rondo said he stills stands by what he said before the season, a claim he reiterated last month: He enjoys playing for the Celtics. In particular, he pointed to his younger and developing teammates adding joy in Boston.

“I’m enjoying life,” Rondo said.

Even if that life includes more trade rumors.

Manny Pacquiao says he has thought about buying part of NBA team when he retires

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At age 40, Manny Pacquiao is not retiring. Even if you and some boxing pundits think he should. Tonight (Saturday) he fights Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and is expected to pull down about a cool $26 million for his trouble. If you’re getting paid like that, why retire exactly? He has said he wants to fight another five years or so.

After that, he’d like to buy part of an NBA team.

That’s what he told TMZ in a pre-fight interview.

He said he has thought about buying a piece of an NBA team after he retires. Pacquiao, a basketball nut who uses the sport as part of his training, owns an entire semi-pro league — the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League — in the Philippines (one of the most basketball-crazy nations on earth). Pacquiao said he thinks his experience with that league would help him as an NBA owner, that some of the skills will translate, which is likely true. Pacquiao said it’s about finding the right opportunity.

Forbes estimates that Pacquiao will have earned, after Saturday’s fight, more than $500 million in his career. Various websites estimate his net worth in the $200 million range. He’s got the money to jump in as a part owner.

In an NBA that loves personalities and characters — and one always trying to gain more traction in Asian markets — don’t be shocked if this happens someday.

Once Pacquiao retires.

C.J.McCollum, Eric Gordon both withdraw from USA Basketball for World Cup

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First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.

Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.

The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.

USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:

Damian Lillard
Bradley Beal
Khris Middleton
Tobias Harris
Andre Drummond

Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.

That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.

USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.

James Harden reiterates it was ‘false talk’ he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.