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The Early Lead
Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 11/30/2011

Report: Rajon Rondo could be dealt as Celtics target Chris Paul

As the NBA finalizes the details on lockout-shortened, 66-game whirlwind 2011-12 season, owners are shifting their focus from resolving the labor dispute to reshaping their rosters.


Green really brings out Chris Paul’s eyes. (Patrick Smith - Getty Images)
But with a free agent class relatively devoid of big-name talent, the trade market may provide more headlines in the coming weeks.

New Orleans point guard Chris Paul’s name surfaced this week amid rumors that the Boston Celtics would be willing to deal Rajon Rondo for the four-time All-Star.

SportsIllustrated.com is reporting Celtics general manager Danny Ainge “is highly motivated” to bring Paul to Beantown — even if it requires jettisoning a player who played a pivotal role on Boston’s 2008 championship team and has proven to be an ideal facilitator for the team’s “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

But would the move be worth the trouble if Paul would only be with the Celtics for one season?

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Chris Broussard tweeted that according to a source, Paul would not sign a contract extension with Boston when his current deal runs out at the end of the season. And unless Ainge thinks Paul is the key to one final title run for his aging team, a one-year rental makes little sense.

But Ainge has been shopping coveting Hornets for awhile now. Sources told Broussard that after last season’s playoffs, Boston offered Oklahoma City Rondo and Jeff Green for Russell Westbrook and former-Celtic Kendrick Perkins.

Rondo has four years left on his contract, worth approximately $46 million. Paul, who will make $16.4 million this year, would no doubt provide an offensive boost at the point guard position — is career averages of 18.7 points and 9.9 assists dwarf Rondo’s (10.7, 7.6). But does it make sense for the 26-year-old Paul to team with a trio with an average age of 35 playing out the twilight of their NBA careers?


Are Rajon Rondo’s days in Beantown numbered? (Kathy Willens - AP)
His interest in joining Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony with the New York Knicks is notable, but so is the fact that the NBA currently owns the New Orleans franchise, as SI.com’s Sam Amick points out.

“They are owned by the NBA, which has led to the question of whether it would prefer Paul stays put. The league bought the team for $310 million last December and the franchise value would almost certainly take a hit if the popular Paul departs. He has long been hailed as a local hero, a classy member of the community and more than capable athlete who arrived at the toughest of times in New Orleans. Paul was drafted fourth overall by the Hornets out of Wake Forest in 2005, just two months before Hurricane Katrina hit and the team played its next two seasons in Oklahoma City before returning.”

Teams were allowed to begin talking to players and free agents on Wednesday morning but no deals can be offered or signed until Dec. 9 after the official ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Will CP3 be on the move?

And more importantly, why is everyone so down on Rondo this month? Last week a man was accused of taking a swing at the Celtics point guard inside a Massachusetts nightclub.

By  |  12:55 PM ET, 11/30/2011

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