BOSTON Paul Pierce has been in the league long enough to know that trade rumors are part of the business.
Most of the time, you brush it off as just one of those things you have to deal with.
But with the Celtics continuing to struggle, Pierce understands all too well that he or any of his teammates could be shipped out between now and the March 15 trade deadline.
In his first comments since a report about teams inquiring about his availability via trade, Pierce refuseD to let such talk bother him or be a distraction.
"You can't pay attention to that," he said after the Celts' 79-71 loss to the Phoenix Suns Friday night. "That's part of the business. You just gotta do your job as a professional each and every day. That's about it."
But that's the problem.
The C's aren't doing their jobs - which is to win - with any kind of regularity.
Friday's loss dropped the Celtics (5-9) to four games below .500, continuing what has been an unprecedented season of struggles for the Green team.
Players have made no secret about wanting to keep the Big Three intact.
You would think all the trade talk would serve as added motivation for Pierce, who has said on more than one occasion that he wants to retire a Celtic and would like to see this core group stay together.
But he admits all the trade talk doesn't make him want to step his game up for that reason.
"What makes me want to play well," Pierce said, "is our record. That's more than anything."
And while he is well aware that his name and those of his teammates have been making the rounds on the trade rumor mill, his focus remains on who he's playing with.
"I don't really read the papers," he said. "I don't really monitor everything that's been said. I'm just more concerned about this group, what goes on in this locker room and with my teammates."
He added, "I'm just concerned with the boys in this room."