Source: Mavericks, Celtics to talk about Rajon Rondo trade

DALLAS — The Celtics are in the process of dismantling their championship-caliber core, with the shuffling off to Brooklyn of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for future draft picks. Part of the strip-down: What sources tell and are talks that could result in a trade of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas.

The Mavs’ cap room and resources are arranged in such a way that they could both sign Dwight Howard and procure Rondo, but would have to do so in that order. Dallas is among five teams meeting with Howard in Los Angeles (the Mavs’ meeting is Tuesday.) There is nothing imminent in regard to the Rondo movement. In fact, Boston general manager Danny Ainge is on record as saying he’d prefer to not move Rondo.

But, he added, “If Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are tradeable, then I guess everybody’s tradeable.”

It is not clear what the teams would swap in a Rondo deal. Following our report, various news sources speculated about Dirk Nowitzki being a conversation piece in the deal. But no matter what pieces have been discussed, we’re told the talks between Ainge and long-time friend Donnie Nelson, the Mavs GM, have continued.

Boston last week traded away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn as part of their strip-down. Dallas could help them achieve their goal by taking on salary-cap-eating contracts and possibly by sending them pieces that include Shawn Marion, who has $9.32 million remaining on his expiring contract.

Rondo averaged 11.1 points and 8.3 assists per game in seven NBA seasons while leading the league in assists the last two years and qualifying for the All-Star Game for four straight years. He has a reputation of being a challenge for coaches and teammates.

Also of note: Rondo’s agent is Bill Duffy, who also represented Steve Nash back when Nash and Cuban clashed. That’s not a positive here. And there is Rondo’s recovery from a torn ACL. The Celtics have said they expect him back for training camp, but there are no guarantees there.

But he is a unique talent, a fiery competitor, and at 27, has room to grow. Rondo is just 6-1, but has top-notch defensive skills. He’s under contract for two more seasons at $12 million and $13 million. (Those numbers would render the Mavs’ roster options beyond Dirk/Dwight/Rondo very limited, by the way.)

“Dallas, for all the right reasons, has 100 scenarios up on their board,” a source tells us. “But scenario No. 1 is Dwight Howard.”

And a scenario in which Dallas quickly rebuilds itself into contention also includes Rondo.