Boston Celtics

Pierce understands, ignores rumors

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Pierce understands, ignores rumors

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."

NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

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NBA adds 'Harden Rule' and 'Zaza Rule' for players' safety

NEW YORK - NBA referees will be able to call flagrant or technical fouls on defenders who dangerously close on jump shooters without allowing them space to land, as Zaza Pachulia did on the play that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in last season's playoffs.

Officials will also make sure jump shooters are in their upward shooting motion when determining if a perimeter foul is worthy of free throws, which could cut down on James Harden's attempts after he swings his arms into contact.

The new rules interpretations are being unofficially called the "Harden Rule" and the "Zaza Rule". The Washington Wizards accused the Celtics' Al Horford of a dangerous closeout on Markieff Morris that injured Morris and knocked him out of Game 1 of their playoff series two weeks before the Pachulia-Leonard play.

Leonard sprained his ankle when Pachulia slid his foot under Leonard's in Game 1 of Golden State's victory in the Western Conference finals. After calling a foul, officials will now be able to look at a replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant, or a technical if there was no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

"It's 100 percent for the safety of the players," NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia said Thursday.

The NBA had made the freedom to land a point of emphasis for officials a few years ago, because of the risk of injuries. 

Officials can still rule the play a common foul if they did not see a dangerous or unnatural attempt by the defender upon review. Borgia said Pachulia's foul would have been deemed a flagrant.

With the fouls on the perimeter shots - often coming when the offensive player has come off a screen and quickly attempts to launch a shot as his defender tries to catch up - officials will focus on the sequencing of the play. The player with the ball must already be in his shooting motion when contact is made, rather than gathering the ball to shoot such as on a drive to the basket.

"We saw it as a major trend in the NBA so we had to almost back up and say, `Well, wait a minute, this is going to be a trend, so let's catch up to it,"' NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell said.