WALTHAM — The forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of swirling trade rumors, with an unknown mix of falsity and fact. That’s about all NBA fans can truly expect with the Feb. 21 trade deadline approaching.
In the meantime, the Celtics on Tuesday shot down one rumor that has been denied elsewhere, namely that the Clippers were interested in Kevin Garnett in a deal for Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe.
The Sporting News, which cited anonymous sources, first reported the rumor, and it was declared bunkum by ESPN.com and the Los Angeles Times, also citing anonymous sources, not long afterward. On Tuesday, the Celtics called the report bunkum as well, with coach Doc Rivers saying the trade gossip is coming from the media, not from the Celtics.
“Sometimes, some of the stuff that happens is just silly,” Rivers said at the team’s practice facility. “It really is. When I wake up in the morning and I hear a trade rumor that I haven’t heard in my office, that’s silly. And that’s what happens.”
Garnett, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, addressed the report by making it clear that under Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, no change would be surprising.
“Danny made it very, very obvious, since Day 1 when he brought Ray [Allen] and myself here to align with Paul [Pierce], that he’s going to do whatever’s best for the organization,” Garnett said. “He’s always made that apparent, so I’ve always understood that.
“I bleed green, I’ll die green,” Garnett continued. “That’s what it is.
“But it is a business. When it crosses that path, I’ll deal with it. Trades are a part of this league. Every year you’re going to hear things. If I were y’all, I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
Garnett was asked if he could imagine the Celtics without Pierce, whose name has also surfaced (among many others) in trade rumors: “No,” said Garnett, “and I won’t.”
Rivers lamented how much trade buzz is a result of a publish-first/verify-later media environment, driven by text messages, Twitter, and other bite-size forms of rapidly moving information.
Rivers added that trade rumors aren’t new; they’re just often coming more frequently from people who, as he said, “sit behind a computer and write something that is probably not even [true].”
“The problem,” said the coach, “is now that you guys have to actually report it, which you shouldn’t do, but you do and it becomes an issue.”
As for how he deals with players when rumors are out there, Rivers said he doesn’t actually have to do anything.
“Fortunately for our guys, a lot of them are veterans,” Rivers said. “They’ve been through the drill. They know how it is.
“I think what’s changed in my time . . . is it used to be factual. Now, someone can say something, they can create the news and they can report on the news that they created. And I think that is pretty silly.
“Nowadays, you can’t believe half the things you read or hear, and it’s sad.”
So, what does Rivers want to happen with this roster?
“I like our roster,” he said.
“There’s your answer,” he said.
Rivers said he would be surprised if this team wasn’t the same at the end of the season.
“But you don’t know,” he added. “The fact that Danny and I have only talked about [how Colin] Kaepernick should’ve run it a couple times in the fourth quarter tells me where we’re at right now.”
(Rivers also had predicted that San Francisco would beat Baltimore in the Super Bowl. “I lost a lot,” Rivers said. “The kids’ inheritance definitely took a dip.”)
Ainge has said that Boston will fill its two open roster spots before the trade deadline.
Barbosa is scary
There have long been calls for Rivers to give speedy guard Leandro Barbosa more playing time. With Rondo out, Barbosa’s minutes have increased, and so has his production. The “Brazilian Blur” is averaging about 11 points per game in his last four, all of them Boston wins.
“He’s been great,” Rivers said. “He’s been a guy all year that, ‘Should you go with him? Shouldn’t you go with him?’ And obviously we should have.
“He’s just playing so well. He’s wild at times. I think he scares me and the opposing coach all at the same time. That’s actually not bad to have.”
As the Celtics headed to Toronto to face the Raptors Wednesday, they were 17-9 at home and 7-14 on the road. The game at Toronto will be the Celtics’ first on the road since losing Rondo and Sullinger, which will make it an interesting litmus test for Boston’s new brand of small-ball. Pierce pointed out that it will be important for the Celtics to maintain their momentum heading into Thursday’s game at the Garden against their bitter rivals, the Lakers.