Both Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee played during the Celtics' 107-106 loss to the Detroit Pistons Wednesday at TD Garden even though both were named in a rumored trade with Houston.
The proposed deal involved the Celtics sending Bass, Lee and a future draft pick to the Rockets for center Omer Asik.
Asik has been unhappy in Houston since the club acquired Dwight Howard in the summer. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey envisioned the duo playing together, but Asik never warmed to the idea and demanded a trade.
Morey has apparently set a Thursday deadline for the deal, and the Celtics, seeking their first legitimate center in his prime since they traded Kendrick Perkins, showed interest.
Multiple league sources told the Globe Wednesday it was likely Morey was trying to stir interest in Asik than a deal was in the works. Another league source said that, in fact, a deal was not in the works.
However, late in the evening, yet another league source told the Globe a deal was "close" and the sides were haggling over the draft pick. Another league source said that Bass was not involved in a proposed deal.
Boston has nine first-round picks over the next five drafts but would rather not give up one of its two picks in 2014. The Celtics would much rather give Houston the 2015 No. 1 pick they acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers, which might be in the lower first round.
Asik, 27, is in his fourth NBA season, having played his first two seasons with the Chicago Bulls before signing a three-year deal with the Rockets.
Asik experienced a breakout season in 2012-13, averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds, starting all 82 games. But when the Rockets had a chance to sign Howard in the offseason, Asik's role became blurry.
Asik has played in just 17 games this season, averaging 4.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before the game he hadn't spoken with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge about any deals.
"Danny took off yesterday and the last time I talked to Danny, he didn't have anything and I haven't talked to him since," Stevens said.
Stevens also said if any deals were made, he'd expect to be kept in the loop by Ainge.
"Well, the entire time I've been here, he's said that, he would just keep me posted and keep me abreast and help me in any way that he could with the basketball stuff and if I had any insights, I'm welcome to share them," Stevens said.
"But at the same time, one of the things that really draws me to this is we have a great management team. We have a great front office. They do their jobs exceptionally well. I'm trying to keep up with that from my position."
Bass, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds against the Pistons, said he doesn't pay attention to trade rumors.
Did he know why he was being asked?
"No, I do not," he said.
Was he lying?
"No, I'm not," he said.
On the subject of trade rumors, Lee said, "I only know what y'all know."
He added, "It's part of the game. It happens. I've been involved in trade rumors my whole career so I don't pay attention until it happens."
Lee, in his sixth season, has already been traded three times in his career. He also played for the Magic and the Nets (one season with each), then the Rockets for two seasons before he was traded to the Celtics, his fourth NBA team, in 2012.
"It's the NBA. Some people live on the move, other people stay put," said Lee. "Whatever happens, happens."
Lee, who had 10 points off the bench Wednesday, laughed when asked if he could block out trade gossip.
"It's very easy; I became a pro at it," he said. "You get used to it after awhile. You go do your job. It's part of being a professional. You get paid to play basketball, so I just have to make sure I show up and have that same mentality, whether I'm here or somewhere else."
When coaching at Butler, Stevens didn't have to deal with trade rumors. It is a new challenge for him.
"One of the things I think I've done a pretty good job at since I became a head coach in college is just controlling what I can control," Stevens said. "Whether it is rumors that are about or a person that gets sick at the last minute and can't play, you adjust on the fly and you control what you can control."
The first time came Dec. 8, when Gerald Wallace threw a pass toward the rim that Jared Sullinger tipped in as the 24-second shot clock was about to expire during the second quarter of the Celtics' 114-73 win in New York.
Wednesday, Wallace was at it again, throwing a pass toward the rim that Sullinger tipped in with 0.2 seconds left in the first quarter against the Pistons. Sullinger tipped in the shot, giving the Celtics a 42-23 lead.
The 42 first-quarter points marked the most points the Celtics had scored in any quarter all season, topping their previous high of 39.