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Chris Mannix on D&C: ‘Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year’

06.22.11 at 9:35 am ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and Thursday’s NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mannix said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will not shy away from dealing any player in order to avoid a slow descent into mediocrity, and he noted that even the team’s young star, Rajon Rondo, has been the subject of trade talks in the recent past.

“I think he’s talking about moving everybody. I really do,” Mannix said of Ainge. “I’ve had conversations with different people around the league; I would throw Rajon Rondo on that list as well. ‘€¦ He has explored dealing Rajon Rondo in the past. He has talked to other GMs about him in the past. I’m not saying he’s been willing to pull the trigger in the past, but Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year or so.

“This is just something that Danny does. He’s not afraid to make the blockbuster deal if he thinks it helps him in the long term. So, I think Danny is absolutely working the phones right now. I think every one of those guys is on the table for a potential deal that he’s sure is going to help him.

“This goes back to what I thought the second after Doc Rivers signed that five-year extension,” Mannix continued. “Doc didn’t sign on for five years to be part of a team that just decomposes as it goes back to the Gerald Green era from a few years ago. He believes this team is going to be able to contend in Year 3, 4 and 5, when presumably Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are gone. But to do that, I think Danny is going to have to shake up the roster. And I absolutely believe, right now, before the draft, after the draft, in the offseason, whenever he’s able to talk to these teams again once the lockout is lifted, he is going to be aggressive on the phone lines trying to improve his team.”

That said, Mannix indicated he expects the Big Three will reunited this season in Boston.

“If I had to guess, yes, only because the window for the offseason is going to be microscopic,” he said. “Whenever this lockout is lifted, whether it’s September, October, you’re basically going to have a week, two weeks to make any kind of deals before training camp starts. So, I would think that barring something huge coming across Danny’s way right now, I would say yes, this team is intact.”

There have been reports that the Hawks are dangling Josh Smith and looking for an expiring contract in return. Mannix said it’s no surprise where the rumor originated.

“This is coming straight out of Atlanta, and straight out of Josh Smith’s camp,” Mannix said. “Listen, guys, Josh has told everybody ‘€” family members, friends, anyone that really would listen ‘€” that he wants to get out of Atlanta. It’s been seven long years down there, seven tumultuous years where he’s been heavily criticized for his inconsistent play, his perplexing affection for a jump shot. He wants out.”

Based on Smith’s record, Mannix did not offer a great deal of optimism about the player.

“Right now I think this is only a deal that Atlanta’s exploring, that Josh Smith is heavily interested in. I’m not sure what the level of interest is on Boston’s side right now,” Mannix said. “And if you’re the Celtics, be very careful with taking Josh Smith. He is incredibly inconsistent. There’s a reason Atlanta hasn’t gotten out of the second round for the last few years.

“Josh has incredible talents. He’s a high-flier, he’s a great rebounder, when he attacks the rim, he’s one of the better power forwards in the entire league. The problem is, he only does that about 60 percent of the time. He’s a massive head case. There’s a reason Atlanta is willing to part with him. So, I would be real careful about any kind of deal — believing any kind of deal, and being willing to talk about and accept any kind of deal for Josh Smith.”

Looking at the Celtics’ possibilities should they keep the No. 25 pick in Thursday’s draft, Mannix offered two names: former high school phenom Jeremy Tyler, who flamed out after choosing Europe over college, and Boston College guard Reggie Jackson.

“I think teams are really reluctant to take [Tyler] right now because he brings a whole lot of baggage. But everybody brings baggage at that spot,” Mannix said. “I can’t tell you how many GMs I’ve talked to in the 20s that are looking to get far, far away from their draft picks. They just don’t want to take a guy that they’re going to have to commit two years of guaranteed money to. They just don’t believe that much in this draft. But if you’re Boston, you take on a project.

“I think Boston whiffed when they passed on DeAndre Jordan to take J.R. Giddens a few years ago. I still think they whiffed when they took Avery Bradley [last year] over a guy named James Anderson who’s in San Antonio and they’re still talking really good things about him. You need to take a guy who has major upside. At that spot, I think Jeremy Tyler has the most upside.”

As for Jackson, Mannix said: “If he’s there, he’s just that kind of guy that has great potential to play that 2 guard spot.”

BYU star Jimmer Fredette is an intriguing player, but Mannix does not expect him to be around when the Celtics are on the clock.

“Danny would love it. ‘€¦ But no, I don’t think Jimmer gets any further than New York at 17,” Mannix said, adding: “If he was there at the Celtics pick, Danny would scoop him up in a heartbeat.”

While acknowledging that Fredette “has a lot to prove,” Mannix had plenty of praise for the sharpshooting guard. “This kid has legit NBA 3-point range,” Mannix said. “He’s a stud shooter at this point in his career. ‘€¦ I think he’s going to be a very good NBA player.”

Spanish guard Ricky Rubio announced plans to join the Timberwolves. Mannix predicts big things for the youngster following his escape from the slower European style of play.

“Once you put Ricky in an uptempo system, with an uptempo player like Derrick Williams, this kid is going to be an absolute star,” Mannix said. “I expect him to be competing for an All-Star spot within three or four years.”

Read More: Chris Mannix, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Jeremy Tyler
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