PHOENIX -- Deadline day is here -- mercifully.
For the past 72 hours, the Boston Celtics' presence in trade rumors has been almost exclusively reports of other teams lusting over Rajon Rondo. All while little has indicated there has been any substance to any of those conversations.
Brad Stevens has politely answered all the trade questions this week out west and has managed to avoid rolling his eyes. But Wednesday he again downplayed the topic while noting he doesn't want to "live in a world of speculation."
The inference seems to be that much of what lands in the headlines leading up to Thursday's deadline isn't even worth acknowledging, and it only serves as a distraction as coaches and general managers try to alert players (and their concerned agents) to what's fact and what's fiction.
Stevens has previously noted that 90 percent of what's out there isn't substantial. Even during his first trek through this process, he knows that deadline week is almost always all sizzle and no steak. Especially in Boston.
Plenty of rumors have swirled before the deadline in recent seasons, but rarely has any of those whispers hinted at the moves that followed.
For instance, all appeared quiet before the deadline in 2011, but Boston completed a series of last-minute trades, including a jaw-dropper that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City in exchange for Jeff Green. Last year, plenty of noise gave way to a mere minor swap that saw the Celtics bring back Jordan Crawford (and even the initial reports of that trade on the morning of the deadline incorrectly included Fab Melo before Boston ultimately shipped Jason Collins and an injured Leandro Barbosa to Washington).
Will the Celtics make a move Thursday? They certainly are not opposed to it. But, as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stressed earlier this month, it takes two to trade tango.
We've noted all along that it seems highly unlikely that anyone is going to meet the team's ransom to even start a conversation about Rondo. If Boston got three first-round draft picks from Brooklyn for aging vets Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, imagine the asking price for one of the league's elite point guards, a player in his prime.
So while Rondo has impossibly drawn the most media hype leading up to deadline day, the guess here is that if Boston makes a move it'll be something far less seismic.
Boston still has a logjam at the power forward position and could benefit from clearing some future salary. Ainge is never opposed to adding to his surplus of draft picks and the team has veterans who could aid a contender. The Celtics' preference to avoid the luxury tax line makes it unlikely they'd add salary unless it was for a player they simply couldn't say no to adding.
One thing is certain: Deal or no deal, everyone out west with the Celtics seems ready for that trade buzzer to sound at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday.
As Gerald Wallace noted after Wednesday's loss in Phoenix, "I'm 13 years in this league, I've been traded twice. If it happens, it happens; if not, we got 12 o'clock film tomorrow."
Remember, there is very little pressure on the Celtics to make moves and they can be choosy at the deadline. The team might be content to watch as things heat up at the finish line on Thursday and try to hop into a deal as a facilitator.
Or maybe the Celtics will lower their price tag on non-Rondo merchandise, knowing that clearing cap room or erasing logjams could aid this team moving forward, including to close out this season.
But, in the grand scheme of things, there is little rush to make tough decisions about this team's future. There are two months of basketball left to evaluate the players who are here and those who will be on the team's bus into the future. The draft lottery in May will determine just how lofty Boston's pick will be and could help the team further determine exactly where its needs will be moving forward.
And then there is Rondo. If teams are calling now looking for a discount because he's working his way back from ACL surgery and the Celtics are enduring a transition year, they're probably walking away with a case of sticker shock.
The Celtics can wait until the summer and once again broach the idea of a contract extension with Rondo, one that could offer the point guard some additional long-term security and a quality pay raise, but also leave Boston the ability to add elite talent around him for a quicker return to contender status.
Rondo has said he wants to be here long-term, but also said he's intrigued by free agency. Like the Celtics at the deadline, no one knows exactly which way he's actually leaning.
If Rondo ultimately stresses a desire to test free agency in the summer of 2015, then Boston can decide if it wants to lower its asking price, all at a time when teams will be no less eager to add his talents. The Celtics are still in the driver's seat owning Rondo's rights and, even if he desired to leave the nest, he'd be a sign-and-trade asset.
But that's getting too far down the road. Back to deadline day.
We'll say it again: Boston is in a rare position for a rebuilding team. With its collection of draft picks and assets, there's no pressure on Ainge to make rash decisions. The Celtics are able to sit back at this deadline and let the rest of the league make bad decisions.
After Thursday, the buzz will die down and the Celtics will quietly navigate the final 27 games of the 2013-14 season without much spotlight. The team certainly won't draw as much attention as it has this week with the rampant speculation about Rondo.
But the Celtics seem perfectly fine with that. Just like at deadline week, the team does its best work when no one is watching.