Report: Rondo “open” to re-signing in Dallas, Houston if traded there

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It’s one of the reasons the steep asking price the Celtics have consistently requested for Rajon Rondo lately has not been met — teams were afraid he wanted to play the field in free agency next summer and would bolt them (Rondo is in the final year of his contract and is an unrestricted free agent July 1). You’re not going to give up quality assets for someone you can’t keep.

However, Dallas and Houston might well be able to keep him.

The Mavericks are in “substantive” discussions with the Celtics about Rondo, while Houston has always lurked on the fringes of the discussions. But if he went to those cities he might well re-sign with them, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

With Celtics president Danny Ainge seriously engaging several teams on Rondo trade scenarios, a league source told CBSSports.com Thursday that the point guard is open to re-signing with at least two of them — the Mavericks and Rockets….

Given Rondo’s looming unrestricted free agency, any deal would have to come with assurances that he’d be willing to re-sign with his new team. While those discussions have yet to take place with agent Bill Duffy since no trade agreement is in place, a person familiar with Rondo’s thinking said the possibility of competing for championships in Dallas or Houston intrigues him.

Officially Rondo is denying he even wants a trade, saying to reporters in Boston last night — including PBT’s own Dan Feldman — about these kinds of trade rumors, “It’s a way of life since I’ve been here.”

But Celtics GM Danny Ainge knows he’s likely to lose Rondo this summer as an unrestricted free agent and is motivated to make a move — Boston is rebuilding and contenders are going to come knocking on his door. Not to mention teams like the Lakers — Rondo could get a huge offer to come and help lead the team past the Kobe Bryant era (and play with Kobe for a season or two). Ainge has to get something for him.

Dallas and Houston are among the teams motivated to get something done. They see Golden State and Memphis on top of the West early, they know the Spurs will at some point become closer to the Spurs of last year (if not get all the way back), they see the Clippers, and both teams realize they will need more to get out of this conference and get a chance to win a title in the short term.

A Boston trade with Dallas reportedly would involved Brandan Wright and other players to make the salaries work out (Raymond Felton does it perfectly) plus there would need to be multiple picks in this deal, like a couple first rounders. Dallas does have all their picks and could make the move. With Rondo’s playmaking — setting up Monta Ellis, Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons — and defense Dallas would become a much bigger threat in the already loaded Western Conference. Same is true of Houston — Rondo would make Dwight Howard and James Harden’s lives much easier and there wouldn’t be a defensive drop off.

Dallas apparently would have a good chance to re-sign Rondo, although they are smart enough to talk some off-the-record dollars with his agent to get an idea if a deal could be reached this summer. (That would be done through back channels to avoid tampering.)

Ainge and the Celtics have seemingly come close to dealing Rondo before only not to pull the trigger. Don’t be shocked if they try to use the Lakers (Steve Nash’s $9.7 million plus one of their two first round picks this year) or Knicks or Rockets (lots of young players and picks) as leverage to get more out of Dallas. But with Rondo’s free agency looming there is more pressure on Boston to make a move now than there has been in the past.

Sixers rout Cavaliers 114-95 behind 12-of-14 shooting night from Tobias Harris

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Tobias Harris scored 27 points, Joel Embiid had 14 and the Philadelphia 76ers routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-95 on Sunday.

Cleveland nearly pulled off an upset in Philadelphia on Tuesday before falling 98-97, but the 76ers ended quickly ended any hope of a repeat.

Philadelphia went ahead midway through the first quarter and steadily built the lead, shooting 67% in the half. The lead reached 75-44 early in the third quarter.

Harris was 12 of 14 from the field, missing only one of 12 2-point attempts. Ben Simmons had 10 points and 11 assists, and the 76ers had six players score in double figures.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love took a hard fall after being flattened by Furkan Korkmaz while shooting in the lane in the first quarter. Love got up after being on the floor for a couple of moments and gave the thumbs-up sign to the crowd, remaining in the game.

Love scored 12 points in 25 minutes. Collin Sexton had 17 points for Cleveland, which has lost three straight and opened a stretch of five games in seven days.

The Cavaliers were ahead of the 76ers by five points late in Tuesday’s game, but couldn’t hold the lead. Love missed an open 3-pointer on the final possession.

Philadelphia shredded Cleveland’s defense this time with 33 assists on 46 baskets. The 76ers followed an 11-0 run with a 14-3 spurt to take a 60-31 lead on Harris’ dunk with four minutes to play in the second quarter.

Philadelphia had dropped five of seven going into the game, including consecutive losses in Orlando and Oklahoma City, but finished its road trip on a high note.

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winner sits on rim, rolls off, gives Kings win

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Boston came in on a 10-game winning streak where they had played well on both ends of the court, but they also got some lucky rolls of the basketball.

Not Sunday.

With Boston down one, Marcus Smart put up a floater as time expired in Sacramento, it looked like the shot would fall, and…

Give the Kings credit, at a rough start they have gone 5-2 in November, and that despite injuries to Marvin Bagley Jr. and De'Aaron Fox. Buddy Hield had 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three.

The Celtics had a balanced attack with six players in double figures, but their offense was not as sharp as it has been. This was the first game it looked like they missed Gordon Hayward, who is out with a fractured hand.

Report: Last summer the Lakers, among others, were hoping Suns would buy out Aron Baynes

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Aron Baynes has been critical to the Suns racing out to a 7-4 start with the fourth-best net rating in the NBA. When Deandre Ayton was suspended for 25 games (after testing positive for a diuretic, a banned substance), Baynes has stepped up and been exactly what the Suns needed. He is scoring 15 points per game, shooting 46.5 percent from three (which is opening up the floor for guys like Devin Booker), and providing a big body defensive presence in the paint.

You can see why the Lakers and other teams were hoping Baynes would hit the market this summer. From Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Suns center Aron Baynes has emerged as a cornerstone piece for Phoenix early this season, supplying defense, leadership and, yes, shot-making. Phoenix acquired Baynes on draft night, and in the weeks to come contenders such as the Lakers hoped Baynes would reach a buyout with the Suns to hit the open market, sources said. Suns general manager James Jones and new head coach Monty Williams wanted Baynes — and are now receiving the rewards for the offseason move. Through 11 games, Baynes is averaging 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 46.8 percent 3-point shooting (two 3s made per game). Baynes will enter free agency next July, and as one team executive said, “He is positioning himself for well over $10 million per year.”

Smart move by Phoenix’s management to hold on to Baynes as an Ayton insurance policy (one they ended up needing). Plus, when trying to change a team’s culture (as Jones and Williams are working to do in Phoenix), you can’t have enough hardworking professionals in the locker room. Baynes brings that.

The Lakers thought they would have DeMarcus Cousins in the paint, but he tore his ACL over the summer. The tag team of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee has worked surprisingly well for Los Angeles to start the season.

In what will be a down free-agent market next summer, Baynes is going to be in demand. His payday is coming.

Dion Waiters on suspension: ‘It’s a minor setback. It happens. It’s life.’

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Dion Waiters has yet to set foot on the court for the Miami Heat this season and is currently sitting out a 10-game suspension by the team for “conduct detrimental to the team.” He is not suspended for the gummy bears incident, but rather a series of team infractions (remember he was suspended for opening night, too, after a run-in with coach Erik Spoelstra). However, the fact this suspension came after that well-publicized disruption to the Heat is not a coincidence.

With his time off, Waiters went back to Syracuse, where he played in college, to talk to his old coach Jim Boeheim, someone Waiters sees as a father figure.

While there, Waiters talked about his suspension publicly for the first time,  speaking with Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com.

“I just wanted to come up and talk to Coach,” Waiters said. “I know that’s a person who will always be there for me if I ever need anything. It’s a chance for me to come up, be around, talk to the coaches, things like that. And that’s important….

“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m in a great place,” he said. “I can only control what I can control at the end of the day, so some things you just can’t allow to take your head the other way, some things happen for a reason. If you stay locked in, if you believe and trust in yourself, trust in the work you put in, you know, it’s a minor setback. It happens. It’s life. You learn from it. The only thing I can do is move forward. Stay focused. Stay even-keeled. Let everything else take care of itself.”

Some will want to read that as Waiters being dismissive, but in reality this is the attitude Miami wants Waiters to have — that he can move on, get past whatever issues are going on between him and the team, and come back to bolster the Miami rotation.

That said, thanks to the impressive play from rookies Kendrick Nunna Heat-style player right out of central casting — and Tyler Herro, Miami hasn’t been hurting for quality guard play. Waiters, when he returns, is going to have to earn his spot in the rotation.