SALT LAKE CITY -- Some food for thought as rumor-starved Boston Celtics fans navigate the final hours of the 2016 NBA trade deadline: When was the last time the Celtics made a deadline move that had tumbled through the rumor mill in the days leading up to the trade buzzer?
The answer, as best we can remember, is that it's never happened in recent years. There were no rumors about Isaiah Thomas or Jonas Jerebko or Gigi Datome last year. No rumblings about Jordan Crawford in 2013. And certainly no one expected the Jeff Green-for-Kendrick Perkins swap that left the Celtics' locker room shell-shocked in 2011.
The Celtics and their hermetic front office do an excellent job keeping most of their activity under wraps, in large part because little good can come from information leaks, particularly when most talks never escalate to a serious level. What's more, as last year's deadline hammered home, much of the honest-to-goodness dealing happens in the frenetic final minutes of the deadline when teams have to put their cards on the table.
Could the Celtics make a big splash at this year's deadline and snag one of the big fish they've been rumored to be chasing? Sure, especially with the assets at their disposal. History simply suggests Boston's activity is more likely to be a less anticipated move.
Remember what coach Brad Stevens said earlier this month when the rumor mill first started churning: "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."
Some leftover nuggets from Boston's pre-practice access when the team reconvened Wednesday:
• The Celtics have 12 bodies in Utah, electing to leave rookies R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey back home. Stevens said the plan is for Hunter and Mickey to practice with the Red Claws on Thursday and potentially resume D-League game action on Friday. While Mickey has been rehabbing a high ankle sprain, it's worth noting that the Celtics haven't assigned Hunter, Rozier, or second-year swingman James Young to the D-League for game reps since recalling that trio on Jan. 24. Given that young players can be trade sweeteners, it seems fair to wonder if the Celtics are trying precaution to avoid a freak injury that might complicate a deal. The time those young players have spent around the parent club recently could also help if Boston needed to temporarily lean on them amid any deadline activity.
• What kind of player might Stevens desire if the Celtics were to add at the deadline? The third-year coach stressed again Wednesday that he's focused on the players on his current roster, but added, "We just need to continue to grow in our versatility and our ability to guard multiple players and our ability to guard multiple positions. Some guys have shown a real unique ability to do that. The more guys that can do that, the better. And I think that we've got some guys that are improving in that regard. As I look at our team, and I look around the league and how to get better, I think the biggest thing is is how versatile can each guy be in defending? And obviously be a good defender at multiple positions, not just be a defender at multiple positions."
• Stevens sneaked to a Butler University basketball game during the All-Star break, but he spent much of the recess here in Utah. "I was in Indy for a couple of days then I just came out here," said Stevens. "So I've been out here for three or four days, just to kind of unwind. I didn't want to do too much hopping around. And get ready for this stretch. This is a tough [three-game] road trip and we have 27 important games left."
• Isaiah Thomas was asked if he did any recruiting during his All-Star game appearance in Toronto and quickly changed the topic while noting, "I'm not talking about none of that no more. I can't say nothing. It gets out too fast." Reflecting on the All-Star experience, Thomas added, "It was an amazing moment for me, an amazing weekend. I got to sit back and think about it the last two days and ... it's something I definitely want to do every year. I'm not satisfied with just making it one time. There's a lot of guys that are just satisfied with that one time. I want to be like LeBron [James] and them guys where every All-Star weekend you're looking forward to playing in that game. It's something I'm gonna work toward and just try to reach and make another goal for myself."
• As if to hammer home the tight-knit nature of these Celtics: Jae Crowder said teammate Amir Johnson joined him on an All-Star-break trek to Turks and Caicos. Said Crowder, "I try to spend time with my teammates as much as possible." ... Meanwhile, both Danny Ainge and Jared Sullinger made the trip to Columbus, Ohio for Evan Turner's Ohio State University jersey retirement ceremony on Tuesday night. Turner seemed genuinely appreciative of the support. Later, when referencing this year's team he said, "Chemistry is everything, camaraderie is everything."