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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Stein: Knicks pursuing Celtics' Rondo

By Ian Begley

In their quest to upgrade the point guard position by Thursday's trade deadline, the Knicks have tried to engage the Celtics in trade discussions to acquire Rajon Rondo, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported late Tuesday morning. Though, as Stein noted, the Knicks are well aware that they lack the assets to pry Rondo from the Celtics.

What it would take: Danny Ainge and the Celtics would probably want unprotected first-round draft picks or a rising star on a cheap contract in exchange for Rondo. They'd also probably want to dump one of their long-term deals (Gerald Wallace? Brandon Bass?) in a Rondo deal.

Anthony & Rondo
It might be a reach, but the Knicks still want Rajon Rondo, according to Marc Stein.
The Knicks can certainly take on salary in a Rondo deal. But they can't offer the Celtics first-round picks in any draft in the near future. The next first-round pick they can deal is in 2018.

The Knicks also don't have the young, transcendent star-on-the-rise that the Celts would covet in exchange for their point guard.

They can offer Iman Shumpert, who has shown the ability to be a strong two-way player but has lacked consistency. They also can offer Tim Hardaway Jr., the rookie shooting guard who has played well above expectations. Beyond that, they don't have a player with untapped potential on a cheap contract.

So it seems the only way this would work would be if the Knicks engaged a third team.

What about Melo? Again, this is HIGHLY unlikely to happen before Thursday's trade deadline. But if it did, it's fair to assume that it would almost ensure that Carmelo Anthony stays in New York beyond this summer. Late last week, Anthony said his "first priority" is to re-sign with the Knicks after he tests free agency in the offseason.

He also has said he wants to attract other stars to his next team -- whether it's the Knicks or another outfit -- to join him in pursuit of a championship.

A point guard of Rondo's ilk certainly would make Anthony's decision to stay in New York more palatable. A report earlier this season stated that Anthony hoped to recruit Rondo to New York.

If Rondo does come to New York, he'd likely sign a long-term contract with the Knicks. Acquiring Rondo via a trade would give the Knicks Rondo's Bird Rights. If they have those, the Knicks can exceed the salary cap to sign him to an extension or as a free agent. If they waited to lure Rondo as a free agent, they'd have to make sure they had enough cap space to sign him.

For what it's worth, signing Rondo and Anthony to max deals would make it tricky to add another max-money star to the roster. But that's a problem the Knicks certainly would welcome.

Hungry for a PG: What has become crystal clear over the past few days is how badly the Knicks want to upgrade at point guard.

They have continued to try to pry Kyle Lowry from Toronto. The Raptors want either Hardaway Jr. or a first-round pick in any deal for Lowry, who will be a free agent this summer. So that's a sticking point.

The Knicks also have expressed interest in Atlanta's Jeff Teague. They don't appear to have the assets to land Teague on their own. League sources say a three-team deal between the Hawks, Knicks and Raptors has been discussed on a preliminary basis.

Acquiring Teague and his four-year, $32 million contract would eat into the Knicks' cap space for 2015. If they traded for Lowry and re-signed him as a free agent this summer, that also would eat into their 2015 cap space.

Question: Do you think the Knicks should go all-in to trade for a point guard before Thursday's deadline? Or should they wait to acquire one via free agency?

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