- Marc Stein, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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A few dribbles of pertinent chatter from the NBA's personnel grapevine as we enter the stretch run leading up to Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline:
The Knicks continue to lust for an upgrade at point guard ... with little progress.
The Atlanta Hawks have shown reluctance in the extreme to take back Raymond Felton's contract, which makes New York's desire to acquire Jeff Teague virtually impossible to swing. The fact that Teague's contract would slice into the Knicks' 2015 salary-cap space remains another big hurdle.
The Knicks likewise know that (A) Toronto still doesn't feel it can get enough back in a New York deal to part with leading All-Star snubee Kyle Lowry and (B) they realistically lack the assets to seriously pursue their dream target:
Boston's Rajon Rondo.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst, you'll recall, reported earlier this season that trading for Rondo, realistic or not, is the Knicks' in-season fantasy. And sources say they have indeed tried to nudge the Celtics into full-fledged Rondo trade talks -- since New York is said to be a city that Rondo, in the summer of 2015, would be comfortable choosing in free agency -- but are also properly pessimistic about their chances.
New York can offer to take bad contracts off Boston's hands, which would have to appeal to Celtics front-office chief Danny Ainge, but the Knicks lack the shiny draft picks or top-flight youngsters Ainge is presumed to also covet.
One source close to the situation told ESPN.com this week that Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck -- who has long preferred to keep Rondo in Boston even though he'll be an unrestricted free agent in less than 18 months -- is insisting that Ainge set a high trade price for the All-Star point guard.
The thinking goes something like this: If the Celts could score first-round picks in the respective transactions that sent coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers and packaged Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets, you can imagine what sort of haul Ainge's bosses believe Rondo could bring.
The Bobcats remain one of the few teams out there considered a win-now buyer looking for upgrades to fortify a playoff push. And so Charlotte, sources say, continues to pursue Milwaukee's very available scoring guard Gary Neal, whose free-agent move to the Bucks -- although lucrative -- just hasn't worked out. In the first season of a two-year deal worth $7 million, Neal has been openly shopped (with his blessing) since early January.
There were strong rumbles in circulation Tuesday that the New Orleans Pelicans will this week be granted a disabled player exception valued in the $4 million range to compensate for the loss of Ryan Anderson, who is feared to be out for the season thanks to a serious back injury he suffered in early January. Anderson's exact fate won't be known until mid-March, when doctors decide whether he needs the same neck surgery Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning needed.
A few dribbles of pertinent chatter from the NBA's personnel grapevine as we enter the stretch run leading up to Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline:The Knicks continue to lust for an upgrade at point guard .