June 28, 2007
The Celtics insist Paul Pierce hasn't asked for a trade and won't do so if the club doesn't acquire a veteran by tonight's draft.
Director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he spoke with Pierce Tuesday, while Doc Rivers said he and the captain chatted last week, and neither came away with the impression that Pierce wants out.
As for reports Pierce will demand a deal if veteran help isn't on the way, Ainge carefully pointed out that the player has yet to be quoted on the subject. When it was noted that Pierce's agent made comments to that effect last week, he said, ``Yeah, it's been reported. There's a big difference.''
It seems clear from the way both Ainge and Rivers were talking yesterday that it's been stressed to Pierce that the offseason still has more than three months to go.
Asked if he were confident Pierce would want to remain with the team even if the Celts make the No. 5 pick tonight and no veteran is acquired, Ainge said, ``It depends. There's a lot of depends, and it's a long time before October, so we'll talk about that later.
``Paul wants to win. It's that simple. It doesn't take a brain surgeon or anybody with any intelligence . . . it doesn't take a reporter to be able to figure out that he wants to win. And they all want to win. We all want to win, so we're all trying to become a more competitive and a winning team. It's just that simple. Everything else you read into it, there's no new news about all this stuff. All players around the league want to win, and players deal with that in different fashions and different ways and different emotions.''
Rivers seems to have no worries about Pierce.
``No, not at all,'' he said. ``Paul's in a great state of mind. That's another one of those reports where you think, `Where did that come from?' I've talked to Paul, Danny has talked to Paul, and I would say that's far from the truth . . . from what I've read. But it's out there and I think we have to wait until training camp to figure out who we're going to be, not just (today) or the next day.''
Ainge characterized his latest conversation with Pierce as simply keeping in touch, something he does regularly with most of his players. Though it may strain credulity, he added that the media reports of a potential trade demand did not come up.
``If he wants to discuss it, then he'll discuss it,'' Ainge said. ``But I don't need to discuss it because I know where I stand with Paul.''
Pierce's desire to be a Celtic aside, Ainge said he is unfazed by reports from agents and others that top players are not interested in coming to his club. That factor is supposedly scuttling a deal for Kevin Garnett, but sources said yesterday that any stumbling blocks are not insurmountable.
``I don't really pay much attention to what's said,'' Ainge said. ``I pay more attention to what people tell me than what people tell you and what you hear. I don't get that same impression.''
Added Rivers: ``It doesn't concern me. Our record concerns me more than what they say. And you know how this league works. If you start winning, everybody wants to play for you. If you're not, people don't want to go there. I would say a lot of that has nothing to do with Boston. It has more to do with contracts. So I would say to people in Boston, `Don't take it personally. It has nothing to do with the city of Boston or even the Boston Celtics.' ''