SACRAMENTO, Calif. The Boston Celtics didn't allow all the trade speculation the past couple of weeks bother them.
But it's obvious that they are pleased that the players they began the season with, are still around.
"It's good," Paul Pierce said of the C's keeping the band together. "We got a group that's been together for a while, especially me, Ray (Allen), Kevin (Garnett) and (Rajon) Rondo. We got a certain kind of chemistry that's hard to replace. Especially when you start getting into tough games, especially when we start getting into playoff moments. We got a group that can really come together and make things happen."
And it starts at the point guard position with Rajon Rondo, who was the subject of more trade rumors than any player in the league this year.
Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, said on a number of occasions that, aside from trying to acquire Chris Paul for Rondo, the C's had no intention of moving him. However, that didn't stop reports from surfacing that indicated Rondo had attitude issues with the organization, coaching staff and his teammates.
"I had fun with it, everybody's opinion of me, how my attitude is and stuff like that," Rondo said. "I had fun listening to everybody's opinion who doesn't know me."
One thing we all know.
The trading deadline passing does bring about a certain piece of mind for all players.
"As a team, you just want to know where you are. As a team, you want everybody two feet in," said Kevin Garnett, who at times was among the players mentioned as possibly being on the move.
"For me, trade deadline says some type of security if that's even possible. You hear the word 'loyalty' in this game, you kind of laugh at it. I don't think either side has a sense of loyalty no more. That's the way the league is being created, throughout our negotiations, all the CBA stuff."
Short of that, the C's understand that with time comes a smaller window of greatness for them.
In fact, many believe that this team's window of opportunity to win a championship has already been closed.
They, as you can imagine, feel differently.
Giving themselves a chance to go deep into the playoffs is no different now then it was during their first season together.
"The closer we get to the playoffs, the more sense of urgency we have," Pierce said. "The more you start to feeling the energy; knowing when the big moments come, we know what it takes. We understand the sacrifice, and with this ball club we're very confident. We feel like, you never know, this may be the last year of us playing together. You feel it more than ever."