Ahead of Friday night’s matchup at TD Garden, there’s talk of behind-the-scenes discussions between New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and injured Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo.
Both attended prep school powerhouse Oak Hill Academy under head coach Steve Smith, who casually mentioned in an interview with USA Today last week that Anthony has been recruiting Rondo to come to New York.
Each later denied their former coach’s glib comment, but with New York floundering at the bottom of the Atlantic Division and a competitive young Boston squad looking to rebuild in quick fashion, a trade might not be out of the question.
The Knicks are especially desperate for a top-tier point guard, ranking 19th overall in team offensive efficiency and 23rd in assists per game. The team also has to actively assure Anthony they are a championship-contending team before the 29-year-old can opt-out of his contract next summer.
The Knicks (6-15) have one of the worst records in basketball, and things don’t figure to get any better with point guard Raymond Felton sidelined for the next two to three weeks with a hamstring injury. Felton, swingman Iman Shumpert and forward Amar’e Stoudemire were reportedly offered to the Celtics earlier this season for Rondo, but team president Danny Ainge wouldn’t bite, considering the hefty cap hit Stoudemire represents.
Boston would probably be more amenable to inheriting the final $23 million year on Stoudemire’s deal if the Knicks could also throw in a first-round pick.
Rondo is still healing up from ACL surgery 11 months ago, and there is no exact timetable for his return, but according to the Boston Globe he is scheduled to meet with renowned career-saver and orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews some time later this month.
Despite the injury issue, Rondo is still considered one of the league’s most deft floor generals, leading the NBA for two straight seasons in assists. His championship run and close relationships with future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett have also accelerated Rondo’s maturity and leadership on the court.
But New York isn’t remaining stagnant with Boston hesitant on pulling the trigger, and on Wednesday it was reported the Knicks were in serious discussions with the busy Toronto Raptors for point guard Kyle Lowry.
According to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks are packaging Felton with Metta World Peace and the 2018 first round pick for Lowry, whose $6.2 million contract expires at the end of the season. The report did stress that New York refused to include Shumpert, or promising rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
There was also a report from ESPN that the Knicks remain skittish on including a first round pick, as well.
After seven years, Lowry is averaging a career high 14.6 points and 6.7 assists per game for the Raptors, and he’s considered a better on the ball defender than Felton.