LOS ANGELES -- If Paul Pierce believes there's a chance he is going to be traded before Thursday's deadline, he was alarmingly unfazed when asked about the potential that Wednesday's game against the Lakers could have been the final time he pulled on a Celtics jersey.
"I didn't even think about that," said Pierce, more amused than nostalgic. "I don't even know the latest [rumors]."
Pierce, always one of the more informed players when it comes to NBA news and scuttlebutt, actually seemed playfully curious about where trade rumors had him headed.
"What's the latest?" he asked. Informed his name had swirled in a potential deal with the Brooklyn Nets, Pierce just smiled and shook his head.
"I haven't talked to [president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] about anything, but I'm sure if something comes up, he'll probably call me," said Pierce, who reportedly almost got shipped to the Nets at last season's deadline. "You can't worry about that. I have a job to do. And [Boston's front office has] to do what's best for them, for the franchise at the end of the day. I understand that. I've always understood that this is a business."
But the Boston locker room hardly seemed on edge after Wednesday's 113-99 setback against the Lakers at Staples Center. As Rivers lamented, his team simply "didn't have it tonight."
But neither the impending deadline nor consecutive losses could sap Rivers' sense of humor. Arriving for his postgame news conference outside Boston's locker room, Rivers provided a jolt of levity by quipping, "All right, we're going to trade them all now."
Neither Rivers nor Ainge has been particularly responsive to turbulence, and they probably won't start now. The Celtics have stumbled coming out of the All-Star break, starting a five-game West Coast trip on the wrong foot. But even as rumors suggest that Boston could go in any direction to fill out its roster, the Celtics don't seem to be fretting the possibility of being broken up by Thursday.
"[Rumors] definitely haven't infiltrated us, even though we are in the headlines -- us and the Lakers, that's all you see on TV," said Jason Terry. "But it's a lot of smoke and mirrors, man. It doesn't look like [Boston management is] doing anything, but you never know."
Both Rivers and his players were careful to add that deals remain possible, everyone acutely aware that -- even if the rumors are overblown -- Danny Ainge and his staff seem to be gauging all possibilities.
Rivers said a combination of tired legs after Tuesday's loss in Denver and an emotional Lakers squad, playing its first game since Dr. Jerry Buss passed away earlier this week, made for a rough night.
Trade rumors? Rivers said he never paid much attention to them as a player and -- as hard as it might be in the age of social media -- he hoped his team would avoid them as well.
"My ego was too big. I thought I was too valuable to trade so I never worried about it," joked Rivers. "Honestly, I cannot remember ever thinking about being traded. And I'm sure it was probably mentioned or talked about -- hell, it had to be. If you're not the best player, it's mentioned a lot and I wasn't the best player.
"I remember later in my career with the Hawks, some of the veterans when [general manager] Stan Kasten came around, guys starting thinking, 'Oh my gosh, Stan's around!' I used to laugh at it, because I never thought about it. Honestly, I think a lot of our guys are like that. There's just more news now than when I played. So many more [media outlets], so I would guess it must be harder now than when we played."
Rivers playfully noted that his career actually began with a trade.
The Atlanta Hawks tabbed Rivers with the 31st pick in the 1983 draft, but only after the team was awarded that selection as compensation when Chicago signed dismissed Hawks coach Kevin Loughery to be their new helmsman.
"I don't know the exact logistics of it, but Loughery always tells me [about the trade]," said Rivers. "So that could be a complete lie. I know he went to the Bulls and, in compensation, the Hawks got the 31st pick. And that turned out to be me. So that just shows you how bad of a player I was, I got traded for a freakin' coach. You have to be awful when you think about it."
Rivers still doesn't have to worry about his job security. He's not going anywhere on Thursday. The demeanor of his players suggests that they aren't, either.
Which is maybe why Garnett was already thinking about the future and ending this two-game, post-All-Star skid. While he admits the Celtics have needs to address, he seems to think the biggest corrections can be made by the current cast.
"We're not perfect, by any means," said Garnett. "We're a working group, man. We've just got to get back on the horse, so to speak. The [All-Star] break kind of nipped the momentum a little bit, but that's something that you've got to be conscious of, something that we are conscious of, and something that, if we want to work our way out of, it's got to be as a group. It's not going to be one or two individuals.
"We've got to get back to our consistency and defense and let the offense flow through many, versus one or two. We will. We will. I've got to play a lot better. I'm fighting through a couple things like a lot of guys in this league. It starts with the man in the mirror and I've got to be better than what I've been."