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.