At times like this, Kevin Garnett remembers when he first joined the Celtics in August 2007.
Danny Ainge had just completed the mother of all trades — one that directly led to an NBA title — and the Celtics president of basketball operations made it clear to the new arrivals that he loved an active marketplace.
“Danny made it very obvious to us since Day 1 since he brought Ray (Allen) and myself here to be aligned with Paul (Pierce) that he was going to do whatever was best for this organization,” Garnett said before yesterday’s practice. “He’s always made it apparent, and I’ve always understood that.”
Though coach Doc Rivers went to great lengths yesterday to disparage the idea that his aging Hall of Famers are the subjects of more than idle trade chatter, Garnett didn’t sound surprised.
He has the power to veto any deal, but as evidenced by a recent Sporting News report that the Clippers approached the Celtics about trading Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Garnett, he knows better than to lose sleep at this time of year.
Anything is possible, as he once shouted.
“I bleed green, I’ll die green, that’s what it is,” he said. “But it is a business, and when that process is passed, I’ll deal with it. Trades are a part of this league. Every year you’re going to hear certain things.”
Garnett also offered the following reassurance: “If I were y’all, I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
The Celtics center turned more emphatic when asked about the possibility of Pierce leaving for another team by the Feb. 21 trade deadline.
“No, I won’t envision that,” Garnett said. “It’s (that time) of the year, All-Star (time), and right after All-Stars you start to hear some of those things. Part of it is chatter, and some of it is real. You just have to be able to block certain things out. What happens is out of your control at certain times. The things you can control, you control. If a situation comes up where you have to move, then you get ready for it.”
The most pressing question facing Ainge, and thus his players, is whether the Celtics, without Rajon Rondo and surprising rookie Jared Sullinger, warrant holding together.
They have been pegged for a first-round playoff exit against Miami, New York or Chicago. Asked about how far he believes the Celtics can progress, Garnett shook his head and said, “My own personal views on this team, I won’t share.
“Management makes those decisions on what’s best for the organization, and players are moving parts. Danny talks to key guys here, and that’s cool. He’s up front with us, and I don’t see (any imminent trades)… . I won’t comment on things that haven’t happened.”
Pierce was similarly unmoved by this latest rumbling from the trade machine.
“I don’t pay too much attention to it. Whatever happens will happen,” he said. “It’s just like when I got drafted, it played out the way it was supposed to play out. So things of that nature have no effect on me, how I’m going to practice or how I’ll perform in a game.
“I’m taking it day by day, enjoying my teammates. Whatever happens is beyond my control.”
At the age of 35, on a team that appears to be overachieving in the absence of its All-Star point guard, Pierce figures that he has enough to worry about.
“I’m having fun. I’m playing the game I’ve always enjoyed playing,” he said. “My responsibility has always been high. I’m the highest-paid player on the team. I have a lot of responsibility.
“Every year it’s been like that,” Rivers added. “Last year we were two games under .500, it’s over, rebuild, and we came within one game of the (Finals). People have stories they’re going to make up. We understand what we have in this locker room. We understand what our goals are. None of that is going to change, regardless of what everyone else says.” ——