WALTHAM, Mass -- After an early start to rumor season, the Celtics returned to practice on Friday with their team fully intact.
Sources told Marc Stein of ESPN.com earlier this week that Boston had offered a package of Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and a 2015 first-round pick for Rockets center Omer Asik, but Houston had turned down the deal.
Now, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has backed away for any trade talks for Asik. Despite the constant rumblings before talks died down, the trade rumors didn’t faze Lee.
“I didn’t put too much emphasis on it,” Lee said, “Like I said, it’s all rumors until it happens. So when it happens, that’s when I start thinking and worrying about it. Nothing happened, so I was focused on Detroit and went out there and played that game. Now we’re focused on Washington.”
Bass remained fairly quiet on the subject, telling reporters at first, “I never heard anything about that,” when asked about the potential Houston deal.
Later, he commented on how he deals with rumors when they pop up.
“All those things are a part of the business. There’s no hard feelings against anyone, nobody. That’s just business. When anything goes down about anything, that part of it is not my business. I’m supposed to go out here every day and compete and try to get better,” Bass said.
Jared Sullinger, for one, was happy to see the rumors subside, as he felt it put both Lee and Bass in a tough spot earlier this week.
“I think our guys handled it well,” Sullinger said. “I thought it was kind of unfair. Pregame they had to answer questions about trade rumors, after the game [reporters] didn’t care if the Pistons won or we lost, they asked about the trade rumors. I thought it was unfair on them, constantly getting that brought up to them. But they handled it well. I thought that was them being a pro's pro.”
Coach Brad Stevens also used the rumors as an opportunity to open a dialogue with his players and try to avoid having trade talk hang over a roster vulnerable to deals during the next couple months.
“Here’s what I told them today and I think it’s important,” Stevens explained, “I’m not going to talk to them about anything that is a rumor. But if I know something, my door is always open. They can come in and I’ll tell them straight up what I know, but the bottom line is, we live in a world that every day because of technology, we can better clutter our mind.”
Stevens continued: “The deal is, you can’t play basketball without a clear mind. And so you’ve got to do your best to control what you can, clear your mind, and not get too overly concerned about things that are not confirmed by people in the position that are ultimately going to make decisions.”
Lee acknowledged that with no guarantee this team will stay together, they have to make the best of it in the present.
“That’s the NBA,” Lee said. “We look at it as here today, gone tomorrow. You just have to be professional, and go out and do your job, night in and night out. Then while you’re here you gotta keep that chemistry going and keep doing your job.”
Here are a few other leftover notes from practice:
EARLY WAKE-UP CALL: With three of Boston’s next four games starting at 1 p.m., Stevens indicated there would be no major change with his team’s preparation for the early start. “Zero [changes]. Can’t have a shootaround [at the team's practice facility], but we’ll walk through at [the Garden]. I’ve always liked afternoon games. It’s something that you gotta be ready to go, because it’s an earlier tip. ... Noon is not early in the real world. It shouldn’t be a problem to get up at noon and play a basketball game. We practice every day at 11 or noon, so 1 o’clock should be late.”
WIZARDS A TOUGH CHALLENGE: After a tough loss against the Pistons on Tuesday night, the Celtics turn their attention tomorrow afternoon to an improved Wizards squad. After a letdown following the first quarter against Detroit, Gerald Wallace knows his team has to step up the intensity for the entire contest. “We gotta play 48 minutes,” Wallace explained, “I think the third quarter has been our enemy the last couple games. We’ve had slow starts in the third quarter. We gotta come out and start the second half on a good note. We know they have pretty good bigs in Nene and [Marcin] Gortat. They have one of the best point guards in the league in John Wall. And they have some great 3-point shooters on their perimeter wing. We gotta control them in transition, keep those guys off the 3-point line, and make them play in a half-court set.”
CHRISTMAS BREAK: The Celtics will have their first Christmas Day off since the 2007-08 season. Stevens reflected on having some extra downtime this week around the holiday. “I certainly would love for the Celtics to be playing on Christmas Day, but I don’t think anybody in this building is going to mind being with their family and taking the day for the real reason of why we’re doing it and spending time together,” Stevens said.