BOSTON -- Rumor season arrived in earnest this week for the Boston Celtics with a buzz suggesting potential interest in Houston Rockets center Omer Asik. Before Monday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, coach Brad Stevens threw cold water on the chatter.
"Couldn’t tell you if [his players] read [the trade gossip]; I don’t pay attention to that stuff," Stevens said. "The only time I would pay attention to it is if [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] came in and told me that something was being considered, and we haven’t had any of those discussions. Ultimately, this is a job, it’s a unique business that we are all in, but I have not seen it affect personalities one way or another. It’s been the same locker room for the last two months."
Stevens inherited a flawed roster heavy on shooting guards and power forwards, but lacking depth at point guard (at least while Rajon Rondo has rehabbed) and center (which helps explain the Asik speculation). If he'd like to see some tweaks to the unbalanced roster, Stevens isn't tipping his hand.
"It’s not my job," he said. "I’ll coach the guys that are here, and I’m excited about coaching these guys and I’ve enjoyed coaching these guys."
A handful of postgame notes after the Celtics topped the Timberwolves 101-97 at TD Garden:
SULLINGER'S 3-POINTER: For much of December, Jared Sullinger has been a bit more selective with his 3-point shot. He noted the other day how he often passes up an initial look hoping to create a better one when the ball works its way back to him. But Sullinger didn't hesitate when he drilled a 25-foot straightaway triple with 2:22 left that helped Boston emerge with the win. "I was wide open," Sullinger said. "I passed up a lot of shots in the third quarter, where I was wide open and tried to get better shots for my teammates. [Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty] pulled me to the bench and said, ‘Just shoot the ball. That’s what players do. We believe in you. Every shot that you take, we have confidence in you. Now you have to have confidence in yourself to shoot it.’ And I heard that. Obviously, my confidence went through the roof, especially coming from a coach. When you hear, ‘Shoot the ball,’ you automatically shoot it the next play down. It was tremendous to have a support system like that."
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS (OF YEARS): Minnesota coach Rick Adelman was asked why so many college coaches have failed at the NBA level and offered, "I have no idea why it is. I think a lot of times, it depends on the teams you get. Some college coaches take teams that aren’t very good. ... It’s hard to win in this league. Let’s face facts: In college, the coach is the man. He controls everything. You’ve got to be a little bit different personality here to coach in the NBA. You have to get the players’ respect and make them believe that they can win and they can get better. But it’s a long season too. It’s the travel and the 82 games. It’s really wearing. But one thing he’s got going for him is the length of his contract. I’m serious. I think Danny was really smart. If that was the guy he was going to pick, and he’s obviously a very good coach and really smart, you want him to get through this period, and I think they’ve done a good job of getting quality people. If they get Rondo back [in game action], they’re going to be a team to compete."
HUMMEL TELESCOPE: Stevens is quite familiar with Timberwolves guard/forward Robbie Hummel, a native of Valparaiso, Ind. Hummel started Monday's game and finished with 2 points on 1-of-4 shooting with four rebounds over 19 minutes. "I have so much respect for him," said Stevens. "And he was friends with a lot of our players [at Butler], they had played together in the summer. And I know that he’s still friends with a couple of them. [Celtics assistant] Coach [Micah] Shrewsberry coached him for a year at Purdue on my staff. Obviously, we’re really familiar with him, and coming back from what he came back from, with the two ACLs, is a remarkable story."
RUBIO ON RONDO RECOVERY: Wolves guard Ricky Rubio has been through the rigors of ACL rehab. His advice to Rajon Rondo? "It’s hard, it depends on how he feels and how much he trusts his knee," said Rubio. "It is something I have been through and I can tell what I have been through that it wasn’t easy. Even when I was playing it took a long time for me to be myself again."