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."