BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- When the Boston Celtics reconvened in Phoenix on Tuesday, coach Brad Stevens gathered his team at the hotel before their first post All-Star break practice and tried to put their nerves at ease by suggesting that he didn't believe the team was poised to make any moves at the nearing trade deadline.
That, of course, did little to put his players at ease. Stevens implored them to come see him if they wanted to talk and he would divulge everything he knew about their situation. But even as the team met for a film session on Thursday in Beverly Hills, just a short time before the trade deadline, he could see his players checking their phones to see if their names were rumored in any swaps.
And at 3 p.m. ET, or a little bit after when they got the all-clear, both coach and players let out a little sigh of relief. Even if Stevens didn't expect any moves, it's easier to believe now with the deadline in the rearview mirror.
"Nothing happened," Stevens deadpanned while smiling as he met with reporters on a terrace overlooking Rodeo Drive on Thursday afternoon.
"I didn’t anticipate anything based on what I had heard and, as it got further along, my conversations with the people making those decisions were few and far between, just because they tell me when things are going on," said Stevens. "It was pretty obvious that there wasn’t a lot on the table, there wasn’t a lot being discussed. So the majority of my attention has been on assessing our performance [from Wednesday's loss in Phoenix] and trying to get ready to play a little bit better [Friday] night [against the Lakers]."
Stevens is glad his players can now share his feelings of ease about the deadline.
"At the end of the day, it’s a tough time, because they are all checking their phones, all the way up until the final buzzer," said Stevens. "I think that’s just part of life in this league. Everybody is watching just out of curiosity anyways, to see who ends up where. It is nice to be able to know who is going to be on that bench. A lot of it has to do now with injury and everything else. Hopefully we can get as healthy as possible for as long as possible. And continue to try to move towards our goals that we’ve talked about, just getting better as a team, especially on the defensive ends of the floor."
Did Stevens sense any nerves from his players?
"They haven’t said a word to me," said Stevens. "And I told them three days ago, I said, 'I will tell you anything that I know 1-on-1. Just come on in, knock on my door. I’ll tell you anything and everything that I know' ... So it’s an easy thing for me to tell everybody. But they’ve been great. Young people, generally, are pretty resilient. I think they roll with the punches and they roll on to what’s next if they move. You see that with guys that get traded and then all of the sudden 48 hours later they’re playing for a new team and two weeks later, they’re veterans of the team. Again, it’s something that’s unique. It’s unique to this environment of being a professional athlete versus any other level of athletics. But it is something that these guys take in stride, at least these 11 guys that are here with us have."
Stevens had a couple players -- Jeff Green and Brandon Bass -- bubble up in early rumors, but the time leading up to the deadline was dominated by chatter about Rajon Rondo and the teams lusting after his services. While Stevens went out of his way to downplay the rumblings, including noting that 90 percent of trade rumors had no substance, he did all he could to keep his players at ease.
"I learned a long time ago that, when you’re working in an environment, transparency is really important," said Stevens. "Obviously, there are things that are very confidential by nature that you have to make sure you handle appropriately, but you have to be transparent. If there’s something that needs to be talked about, if there’s a big elephant in the room that needs to be addressed, you address it and move forward. I don’t know if they sat there and believed me or not. I can’t tell. But I told them what I knew and it ended up being true that nothing happened."