BOSTON -- Former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers calls it "silly season," the time of year when trade rumors fly like 3-pointers at a Celtics game. Still two weeks out from this year's deadline, the "quietly aggressive" Celtics have already found themselves linked to some big names, including Houston center Dwight Howard.
Current Celtics coach Brad Stevens admits that he occasionally checked with the team's front-office staff to substantiate rumors during his first year on the job. Now a grizzled veteran -- he's an "elderly" 39 when you consider that recent in-season hires Tyronn Lue (38), J.B. Bickerstaff (36), and Earl Watson (36) are all younger -- Stevens doesn't pay much mind to the chatter.
"The guys that have been in the league longer probably feel a lot like I do. It’s like, we’re just all like listening and laughing and trying to figure out what’s real and what’s not, but not putting a lot of a stock into it until somebody knocks on our door," Stevens said. "And that’s the way I feel about it. I probably followed up on every third rumor my first year. And I don’t think I’ve followed up on one yet. If [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] wants to talk to me about something, he knows where to find me."
Stevens said Wednesday that he and Ainge have talked "generally" about the deadline, but not about any specific deals. Stevens noted recently how he only received a call from Ainge minutes before the team pulled the trigger on the deal that delivered All-Star Isaiah Thomas at the buzzer of last February's deadline.
Even though some of his players will unfairly be dragged through trade speculation, Stevens said it was impossible -- and also probably unnecessary -- to seek them out every time a new whisper is heard.
"I think if you go through and try to stay on top of every rumor that’s flying around -- maybe you mention it in one [team] setting," Stevens said. "I don’t think that guys put a lot of stock into it, to be honest. It’s part of the business. We all recognize it’s part of the business. But we’re all focused and preparing to play a good Detroit team. And there’s so many games and there’s so little time to prepare for the games, it’s really hard to get sidetracked. Certainly, you’re not always going to play your best, certainly there’s always distractions, but if you let distractions creep into you while you’re playing, you’ll play poorly."
The Celtics are armed with a war chest of draft picks (including what's likely to be three first-round picks and five second-round picks in this year's draft), some intriguing young talent, and a variety of tradeable contracts that could be used to build any sort of mega deal (looking at you, David Lee).
Considering the Celtics had made roughly nine trades by this point last season, Stevens seems relatively unfazed about the potential for any sort of activity at this year's deadline.
"Like I said, for me, I’m not losing sleep over what might happen, what’s not going to happen, what’s not real, what’s real, any of that stuff," Stevens said. "I’m just coaching our team and focused on our team. If something happens, it happens. We’ve had stability all the way throughout this year, we’ve started to play better, although we’ve been pretty consistent in our effort and our defense most of the year. We’ve started to play a little bit better, offensively, at times, and our goal is just to keep getting better. Anything that detracts from that or distracts for that is something not worth thinking about."