Tonight the Wolves play at TD Garden where they haven't beaten the Celtics since March 6, 2005. Good news for the Wolves: Rajon Rondo won't be suiting up for the home team.
Late Thursday afternoon, Rondo was officially traded to the Mavericks - along with rookie Dwight Powell - in exchange for Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a conditional first-round pick in the 2015 draft and a second-rounder in 2016, as well as a $12.9 million trade exception, according to ESPN.com.
After nine seasons in Boston the relationship is finally over, but is anybody really that surprised? This wasn't one of those "completely out of left field" deals that catches the masses off guard. Let's be honest, trade rumors have surrounded Rondo for his entire career - dating back to 2007 - as Mike Prada points out in his article "29 Rajon Rondo trade rumors that didn't come true."
And when Danny Ainge made Marcus Smart the sixth overall pick this past summer, passing on power forward Julius Randle in the process, the writing seemed to be on the wall; Rondo's days were numbered. He's also in the last year of his contract and Rondo doesn't exactly seem like the type of unrestricted free agent that would like the idea of re-upping with a team that could squeak into the playoffs over the next couple of seasons, but certainly won't make any serious noise without landing another superstar.
So, that's that. Rondo is heading to Dallas where he'll team up with Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler, under the supervision of one of the best coaches in league, Rick Carlisle. We'll see if the move works out or not.
As for the Wolves...
Corey Brewer is being mentioned in trade rumors for the second time this season, as Eric wrote yesterday.
He could be wearing a different uniform soon, like Rondo, as the Wolves are also looking towards the future. Eric went over the possible assets the Wolves might receive in return, but I'll add a few tweets to the discussion:
Yes, well aware of Turiaf's status. Called a throw-in. Talks continue. Not done yet. Flip often doesn't really react until has to. #twolves— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 19, 2014
Nothing official. Just told talks progressing & that's one proposal. RT @ernestshoo: mean Turiaf to Hou. w/ Brew? How soon can we see that?— Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) December 19, 2014
Whether Turiaf is involved or not, his days with the Wolves seem numbered. Ultimately, if he's involved as a throw-in to Houston, he'll likely be waived due to the season-ending hip surgery he underwent earlier this week (note: Turiaf's $1.6 million salary expires after this season).
Dealing Brewer would bring salary-cap relief - he's set to earn $4,905,000 next season - and open up more time for Flip Saunders to develop Shabazz Muhammad on the court; one of the lone bright spots on an injury-plagued Wolves' squad. It could also yield a valuable 2015 second round pick, an asset the Rockets own via the Knicks who currently have the second worst record in the NBA at 5-23. That pick could prove valuable in Minnesota's rebuilding efforts.
What to watch for in Friday night's game
Both the Celtics and Wolves are operating with the future in mind, putting a premium on developing their young cores, so this game is all about watching the youngsters, though Boston is still technically in the race out East (only a half game behind the Brooklyn Nets for the 8th seed).
Marcus Smart is dealing with an Achilles strain, but returned to practiced yesterday and may play on Friday according to Zach Cox of NESN.com:
Head coach Brad Stevens said rookie Marcus Smart would return to practice Thursday after missing the last two games with an Achilles strain. Don't pencil him back into the lineup for Friday's game just yet, though; Smart also was a full practice participant Tuesday before removing himself midway through the session. "We'll have Marcus available again in practice, and see how it goes," Stevens said.
Boston will rep a young core of starters even if Marcus Smart (20) can't go - Avery Bradley (24), Jeff Green (28), Jared Sullinger (22) and Tyler Zeller (24) fill out their starting lineup. They also have Kelly Olynyk (23) along with injured rookie James Young (19). The Wolves, on the other hand, boast a nice collection of young players themselves - Rubio (24), Wiggins (19), Dieng (24), Muhammad (22), LaVine (19), Bennett (21) and Robinson III (20). *Rubio will miss his 20th straight game due to an ankle injury, but his recovery is speeding up.
In short, if you like watching basketball games full of U-25 players THIS ONE IS FOR YOU. But whatever the end result is on Friday, both organizations are clearly looking towards the future.
Ricky has been showing more ownership since he got that contract extension: today he took A Wiggins aside for a chat pic.twitter.com/4qIVKcKZbm— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) December 18, 2014