BOSTON (CBS) – Rajon Rondo is set to return to the Celtics, potentially Friday night against the Lakers.

But the return of Rondo will mean less minutes for an already crowded group of guards in Boston, and may signal the departure of another player.

According to NBA Analyst Peter Vecsey, the Celtics are close to dealing guard Jordan Crawford. He lists five teams interested: the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors.

Crawford’s stock is still high, as he’s enjoyed success with the young Celtics. He was moved to the point guard position early in the season by first-year head coach Brad Stevens, and is averaging a career-high 5.7 assists per game.

While he has struggled in the month of January, shooting just 36-percent in eight games, Crawford’s offensive game is still there. His shot selection causes headaches on a nightly basis, but in 39 games this season (35 starts) Crawford is averaging 13.7 points on 41-percent shooting.

Each of the five teams named by Vescey could use some scoring off the bench, but it’s unclear what any of them would be willing to deal for Crawford’s services. The Suns, who are holding on to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, are currently without point guard Eric Bledsoe, and could use Crawford at the point while Bledsoe recovers.

While the Clippers may be interested in Crawford, they won’t be acquiring him via trade with the Celtics. The NBA has prohibited the Celtics and Clippers from any trades this season due to the “Doc Rivers trade” over the summer.

With Crawford’s success this season, Danny Ainge should be able to get another future asset for him prior to the February 20 NBA Trade Deadline. It’s unlikely he’ll get a first-round pick for just Crawford (the 27th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft), so this could just be one piece to a bigger deal involving multiple players.

With Rondo returning and Crawford’s stock still high given the guard’s success, the time is right to make a deal.


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