PHOENIX — By now, it’s a tradition.
Every year around this time, with the NBA’s trade deadline closing in (Thursday at 3 p.m.), reporters ask Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo about being involved in trade rumors.
Is he concerned? Carefree? Anxious? Annoyed?
And by now, after years of rumors coming and going while Rondo stays put, the Celtics captain has a stock answer: it doesn’t bother him anymore.
“This is Year 8 for me [in the NBA],” Rondo said Tuesday after practice, where the Celtics will play the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night to kick off a four-game West Coast swing after the All-Star break. “And I think this is Year 8 for me being in trade rumors, especially around this time.”
Even though the Celtics are in rebuilding mode this season, Rondo said he doesn’t feel any different now, either.
“This is pretty much the same thing I go through every year,” he said. “I think this is the most trade talk maybe, as far as seriousness for me, but, like I said, I still live my life every day and do what I do. Whatever happens, I’ll be able to adjust and adapt to it.”
Does he follow the chatter?
“No, I’m enjoying life,” Rondo said. “I have a lot to be thankful for. This is just part of it.”
Coach Brad Stevens also downplayed the likelihood that his team could look night-and-day different after the deadline passes.
“I’m not anticipating that, nor am I looking at that,” Stevens said. “I’m looking at the guys that are here. And I have been looking at the guys that are here the whole time, and told them that [Tuesday].
“I think the trading deadline is going to be full of rumors and part of it is, because there’s a deadline on Thursday, more are going to be created.”
Added Stevens, “Again, I’ve gotten the impression, from everything that I know and from everything that I read, that what you read is a lot more than what’s actually happening.”
To be sure, the Celtics have a steep asking price for Rondo – the closest they have come to dealing him was in 2011 for All-Star point guard Chris Paul.
But given the Celtics’ preference to clear cap space and the logjam at power forward, and given the level of interest from other teams looking to make a postseason push, perhaps the most likely Celtic to be traded is Brandon Bass.
While Bass said he’s grateful to be in this third season with the Celtics, the 28-year-old forward added, “It’s really about who wants you the most, and I want to be where I’m really wanted and I’m really a part of their future. That’s all that matters. Nothing else really matters.”
Earlier this season, Bass was involved in a trade rumor that would have sent him to Houston. At the time, Bass was surprised.
“I didn’t expect that and it kind of came out of nowhere,” he said. “But now I’m in my stance.”
Stance? Bass then explained that before, he stood there like a boxer waiting for the bell to ring. Now, Bass believes the bell has rung.
“I’m in my stance,” he said. “I’m ready to dodge and jab or whatever.”
When the deadline passes, Bass said there will be a feeling of relief.
“That’s for anybody and everybody,” said Bass, who’s making about $6.5 million this season and $6.9 million next season. “Some type of relief will be there – well, at least I’ll know I’ll be here for the next couple months, or at least I know I’ll be there for the next couple months.”
In a season in which the Celtics already have made two trades, Bass said that if you think about the trade speculation, “It can consume you. Therefore, you shouldn’t think about those things, because I’m not in meetings with [general managers] and owners. I’m on the plane with my teammates talking about whatever we’re talking about.”
But at the very least, Bass admitted that it’s nice to know that other teams might want him, too.
“Yeah, that’s cool,” he said. “There’s positive ways of looking at things. But you don’t even want to think that far, because thinking that far, that means you’re analyzing and thought about [how] the team you’re with doesn’t want you no more. You don’t even think that far.”
He’ll sit out
Rondo said he won’t play Saturday when the Celtics play the second of a back-to-back set in Sacramento against the Kings. Rondo, who hasn’t played on the tail end of a back-to-back since returning to action last month after missing nearly a year with a knee injury, said he’ll sit out because he doesn’t want to play three games in four nights while he’s easing back into form . . . Starting guard Avery Bradley and rookie center Vitor Faverani didn’t travel with the team for its four-game trip. Bradley is sidelined after re-spraining his right ankle before the All-Star break. He previously missed five games after initially spraining that ankle last month. Faverani injured his knee with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League earlier this month.