Gasol: 'It's part of the reality of what we do'

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Gasol: 'It's part of the reality of what we do'

BOSTON Wednesday morning began like most mornings for Los Angeles Lakers forward (for now at least) Pau Gasol.

His name was once again linked with trade rumors, this time in a deal that would send him to Boston in exchange for C's guard Rajon Rondo.

Gasol said that he tries not to think about it, but adds that it's easier said than done.

"There's days I might think about it a little more, it's in your head a little more," he told CSNNE.com. "But you can't shake it off until something happens or doesn't happen at all. It's not pleasant, but it's part of the business. You have to deal with it."

Rondo can relate.

He, too, has been the subject of trade talks, with the Celtics earlier this season actively involved in trying to move him for Chris Paul, who was eventually traded from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Clippers. There was another rumor shortly after that one fizzled that involved the Lakers apparently being interested in trying to deal for Paul Pierce, who grew up just outside of L.A. in Engelwood, Calif.

"It's part of it," said Rondo, regarding the trade rumors. "I don't think no one is safe until the actual trade deadline (March 15) is over."

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has maintained throughout his tenure that he'll pursue any trade -- regardless of which player he has to move to get it done -- if he believes it can meet certain objectives which of course include, making the C's better.

For now, Ainge told CSNNE.com that his focus is on seeing the players he assembled actually play together some before he'd seriously consider breaking the team up.

"Our guys are just starting to get back healthy, and are starting to develop nice chemistry with one another," Ainge said. "I've been happy with the way things are progressing, the direction we're heading right now."

And while adding Gasol would certainly bolster the Celtics' frontcourt, it would certainly come at a high cost -- a cost that Ainge is unlikely to want to pay for a 31-year-old big man who is averaging a career-low 16.2 points per game.

Plus, the Celtics would have to include an additional player or two with Rondo in order to match Gasol's salary, which is 18.7 million this season. After that, Gasol has two years and 38.3 million remaining on his contract.

While Avery Bradley did a nice job filling in for Rondo when he was out with a right wrist injury, Bradley is not ready to assume the lead guard role on a full-time basis.

And maybe the biggest deterrent for the C's in pursuing such a deal now -- or any deal for that matter -- is the way the C's are playing.

It's not so much that they've won a season-high five straight, and nine of the last 10.

It's how they're winning -- with defense.

With all their core guys healthy, starters and reserves alike can now play the roles they were brought in to play.

And as we've seen the past couple of weeks, the C's are devastatingly good when they play their brand of defensive-minded, grind-it-out basketball.

For Boston, the true test of how far they've come is on the horizon with a schedule that gets significantly tougher, beginning with Thursday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

After the Lakers game, Boston (14-10) has seven games prior to the All-Star Break.

Of those seven opponents, the C's face Chicago twice (Feb. 12 at the Garden, Feb. 16 at Chicago's United Center), along with road games at Dallas and Oklahoma City.

Regardless of how well the Celtics are playing, you can bet the C's will continue to be linked in trade rumors involving different players like Gasol.

"I still try to play as well as I can, help my team as much as I can as I have been," Gasol said to gathered group of reporters. "That's what I can do. It's not pleasant to know you're being dealt with, that you could be sent away somewhere, but it's part of the business part of our league and you accept it. Whatever happens, you just try to move on if it does."

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

Don't expect to see Celtics shy away from 3-pointers

BOSTON – There were a bunch of numbers from Boston’s 121-114 loss to Detroit on Wednesday that stood out. 

Among the eye-grabbing stats was the fact that the Celtics had taken 42 3s (with 15 makes), an unusually high number of attempts that we may see matched or even surpassed tonight against the Sacramento Kings. 

Don’t count head coach Brad Stevens among those surprised to see the Celtics attempt a lot of three-pointers. 

Last season the Celtics took 26.1 three-pointers per game which ranked 11th in the NBA. 

This season they’re up to 31.2 three-pointers attempted and 11.3 made which both rank fifth in the NBA. 

You can count Kelly Olynyk among the Celtics pleased with the team's increased emphasis on shooting 3s. 

The 7-foot led the NBA in shooting percentage (.405) on 3s taken last season.

"We play a lot of spread offense with four shooters, four perimeter guys," Olynyk, who is shooting 38.1 percent on 3s this season, told CSNNE.com. "We're trying to make teams shrink their defense and spray out and hopefully make shots. You're making extra passes, giving up good ones for great ones. And we have some pretty good shooters on our team. That's the way we're trying to play. It's just a matter of us making shots."

And the Celtics face a Kings team ranks among the NBA’s worst at limiting 3-point attempts with Sacramento opponents averaging 28.4 three-pointers taken per game which ranks 25th in the league. 

One of Stevens’ main points about three-pointers is while it’s an important shot for them, they need to be the right shot, the right basketball play at the right time. 

And when asked about the 42 attempts against the Pistons, he was quick to acknowledge those were for the most part the right shots to be taken. 

“They are,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day we want lay-ups. And if we don’t get layups, we want the floor to be shrunk. If the defense shrinks in, you’re able to touch the paint and kick out. Two of our last three games, maybe three of the last four, two-thirds of our possessions we touched the paint or shrunk the defense with a roll. That’s our objective. We’re not a team that gets to the foul line a lot. We’re not a team that rebounds at a high rate. And we haven’t scored in transition. To be able to be sitting where we are offensively, a big reason is because we space the floor.”

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

Barnes, Cousins trying to keep 'emotions and energy focused'

BOSTON – No one is proclaiming DeMarcus Cousins’ demeanor is all that radically different than past seasons. 

But the volatile nature that has often overshadowed his on-the-court-brilliance, doesn’t seem to shine as brightly as it used to. 

Maybe he’s growing up. 

Maybe he’s finally comfortable with his team. 

And then there’s the almighty dollar which was the incentive for one of his teammates, Matt Barnes, to clean up his act as far as racking up technical fouls and being fined by the league. 

I asked Barnes whether there was a light bulb moment or a teammate or player that helped him get on track and not draw so much attention from officials and the league office. 

“It was all the money I was being fined,” he said. “I think I lost like $600,000 over my career for fines. It was time to kind of wake and say ‘hey, they don’t like you so you have to stick to the book.’”

With Barnes returning to Sacramento (he played for the Kings during the 2004-2005 season), he finds an intense, kindred spirit of sorts in Cousins who like Barnes has had his share of technical and fines handed down by the league office. 

This season, Cousins is the NBA’s leader in technical fouls with six. 

“I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders,” Barnes said. “I’m just a passionate player. I play with my emotion on my sleeve. I think DeMarcus does the same thing. What I’m trying to show him now, we have to keep our emotions and energy focused towards the right things. That could be detrimental to the team if it gets out of hand.”

First-year coach Dave Joerger has been pleased to see how different Cousins is to be around on a daily basis as opposed to how he’s perceived. 

“He gets credit for his talent. He gets credit that he’s improved in the league,” Joerger said. “I think he doesn’t get enough credit for the way that his approach to the game and the way that he’s carrying himself and conducting himself has greatly improved. He’s a good person. Now being with him, I see improvement over the last three years, the way that he goes about his business. I think that’s very positive.”