PHOENIX -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens admits that it his job to coach the players on the team and he leaves roster management to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his staff. But as trade rumors gust in advance of Thursday's deadline, Stevens balked at the idea that the Celtics could be poised for a major shakeup.
Asked about navigating his first deadline and the possibility that the roster could be overhauled before Thursday, Stevens downplayed the potential for Boston activity.
"I’m not anticipating that, nor am I looking at that," Stevens said. "I’m looking at the guys that are here. And I have been looking at the guys that are here the whole time, and told them that today. I think the trading deadline is going to be full of rumors and part of it is because there’s a deadline on Thursday, more are going to be created.
"What we’ve got to do is, ‘OK, this is where we are.’ I like our locker room. I like the vibe of our locker room and so I’m focused on the guys that are here. The other part is I’m fortunate that’s my job. I get to focus on the guys that are here. I haven’t put too much time thinking about things that aren’t."
Stevens acknowledged the potential for rumors to weigh on his players, but hasn't seen any signs of that to this point, even after Boston was part of a pair of January swaps.
"Certainly as you go through the year and certain things are reported, or they see their name come across the Internet, I’m sure that weighs on them," Stevens said. "Have I seen it really impact one or two guys? No, I really haven’t. They’ve been pretty professional all the way through it, which I'm sure is hard to do. Again, I’ve gotten the impression, from everything that I know and from everything that I read, that what you read is a lot more than what’s actually happening."
Stevens later added, "I don’t want to make up some world that doesn’t exist. This is our team, I’m coaching them, and we’re all here, we’re all ready to practice and let’s go from there."
Stevens tried to get away from basketball for the weekend, but caught the Rising Stars Challenge featuring Celtics youngsters Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk while traveling to the Phoenix area on Friday night. "It was fun to watch because (A) I thought they did a good job and (B) it passed the time well," Stevens joked. He also immersed himself in old film during downtime, trying to gauge his team's progress to this point and where the team can build over the final two months of the season.
"The way I’m looking at it is: Where can we get better as a team on both ends of the floor?" Stevens said. "You can measure yourself by the wins and losses, you measure yourself by individual production and improvement. But really what I’ve spent the last few days on is collectively looking at, 'How can we make our defense a couple of notches better? How can we make our offense a couple of notches better?'
"Right now, and we’ve kind of been in this little area where we are a top 14-15 defense in the league, and can we become a little bit better over the course of the next two months? That’s a goal of mine. Then offensively, the same thing. Where we can become so that we’re getting the very most out of our personnel. And I know we’ve talked about that all year, but just a time to kind of rewind, look at some tape of some old games. You’re not looking at the next opponent for seven straight days, you’re looking at yourself as much and identifying a few areas where you can talk to guys about where we can go."