While Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge put a lid Thursday on rumors that the team was in talks with the Houston Rockets about a deal for Omer Asik, the two Celtics mentioned in a possible swap never seemed too concerned by the chatter.
The rumored deal would have sent Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass along with a first-round pick to Houston for the Rockets big man, but Ainge said that while the Celtics were indeed having “discussions,” reports were “embellished.”
Lee said on Friday the rumors were never serious enough to warrant a call from his agent.
“I haven’t even had a conversation with my agent,” Lee said. “He called me before and said he hasn’t heard anything and neither [general manager] called him, so don’t worry about it, and that’s what I did.”
“If they had a conversation it was about probably he heard the rumors and him just doing his job and reaching out to Danny and seeing if there’s any truth to that. But other than that, nothing serious.”
For his part, Bass coyly said that he had no idea a possible deal was floating around.
“I never heard nothing about a deal,” Bass said.
At the same time, he said that having his name come up in trade talks didn’t faze him.
“It ain’t no hard feelings against no one or nobody,” Bass said. “It’s just a business. That part of it is not my business. I’m supposed to go out here and compete and try to get better every day.”
Handling the rumor mill for the first time, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he’s going with an open-door policy for players with concerns.
“I’m not going to talk to them about anything that’s a rumor,” he said. “But if I know something, my door’s always open. They can come in and I’ll tell them straight up what I know.”
They may be two games under .500 and in fourth place in the Southeast Division, but coming off back-to-back road wins against the Knicks and the Nets, the Wizards team that will come into TD Garden on Saturday afternoon will be different from the one that the Celtics swept in last season’s three-game series.
For starters, John Wall’s impact has been immense.
In his past seven games, the former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 20.6 points, 9.4 assists, and 4.1 rebounds.
The 19.6 points per game he’s putting up overall this season is seventh in the Eastern Conference going into Friday night’s action, and his partner in the backcourt, Bradley Beal, would qualify right in front of him in scoring average had he not missed nine games with a leg injury.
“Both of them are playing with high-level confidence, especially Beal,” Lee said. “Coming back from injury, he’s shooting the ball well. Wall’s the anchor to that. He’s pushing the ball, he’s getting in the paint, and he’s finding those guys.”
With Beal (averaging 2.8 3-pointers a game), Trevor Ariza (2.5), and Martell Webster (2.4), the Wizards were the league’s fourth-best 3-point shooting team, going into Friday, knocking down 39.3 percent of their attempts.
What jumped out to Stevens, though, was the number they did on the Nets on the glass, outrebounding Brooklyn, 51-31, on Wednesday.
“Their two trades in the last 18 months, you’ve got Nene and [Marcin] Gortat,” Stevens said. “Those guys are all bona fide NBA big guys and now that they’re all healthy, they’re really good.
“We all saw Brooklyn in person a couple weeks ago. Brooklyn’s not small. So that’s a heck of an accomplishment.”
Rise and shine
After getting up for a noon start against the Knicks two Sundays ago, the Celtics have another matinee with Saturday’s 1 p.m. tip. Stevens said his players shouldn’t have to set their alarm clocks. “Noon’s not early in the real world,” he joked. “So it shouldn’t be a problem to get up and play basketball games” . . . After the Wizards dealt him to Boston last February, Jordan Crawford got a chance to face his former team in April, but when he sees Washington again, he’ll be playing a larger role. Crawford is averaging 13.9 points and 5.5 assists and won Eastern Conference player of the week earlier this month, all after getting a reputation for being a gunner in Washington. Stevens said, “It’s been good to watch him progress throughout this early part of the season.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.