The Boston Celtics and the New Orleans Hornets may be closing in on a blockbuster deal, with the Celtics reportedly willing to trade their starting point guard Rajon Rondo in order to acquire four-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul.
Chris Paul will become a free agent after this season, but the Celtics would prefer him to sign a contract extension with them before giving up Rondo, who has spent five years with Boston and helped the Big Green win an NBA Championship in 2008.
Last season, Rondo averaged 10.6 points per game and 11.2 assists per game. While Rondo has been often been called the key driver of the Celtics, Paul is more of an offensive weapon, which is what the Celtics need with their aging stars in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Paul averaged 15.9 points per game in the 2010-11 regular season - a career low - and 22 points per game in the postseason. He also averaged 9.8 assists in the regular season and 11.5 in the postseason.
Rondo's defensive presence would be welcomed in New Orleans, where the Hornets had the fifth best defense in the league last year in points allowed. Rondo has been voted to the All-Defensive First Team in the last two seasons and averages about two steals per game for his career.
The Celtics shopped Rondo around the league last year, reportedly offering him and Jeff Green to the Oklahoma City Thunder for point guard Russell Westbrook and former center Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics hoped the Thunder would be willing to give up Westbrook after his erratic play in last year's postseason, but Oklahoma City was reportedly not interested in a deal.
On Nov. 30, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge reportedly met with representatives from the Indiana Pacers to gauge their interest in Rondo. Even if the Pacers don't get rondo, it's possible Indiana may still be involved in a three-way deal with Boston and New Orleans to make the Celtics' dreams come true by landing Paul.
Paul is ignoring the speculation. At a charity event in New York City, he said he doesn't pay attention to the rumors, adding, My heart is in New Orleans.
Chris Paul has been a major focus of trade rumors since the last major trade year in 2010, when MVP LeBron James and six-time All-Star Chris Bosh shocked the NBA by joining Dwyane Wade in Miami. Since then, teams have attempted their own blockbuster trades for elite players, with the New Jersey Nets trading for Utah's All-Star guard Deron Williams in February, and the New York Knicks trading for Denver All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, the biggest trade in league history. The Nets are reportedly in talk for another All-Star deal, hoping to land Magic center Dwight Howard.
Paul was the fourth overall draft pick in the first round by the Hornets in 2005, after spending two seasons with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Rondo was the 21st overall pick by the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 draft, but the former Kentucky Wildcat was quickly traded to the Celtics for a future first-round draft pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.