BOSTON - Immersed in the latest batch of trade rumors, Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce declined to speak with media following his team's 96-73 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
"Doc told me I had the night off," Pierce said as he walked through the locker room after the win.
Pierce is reportedly a target of interest to several contending teams, according to a Yahoo! Sports report. Pierce played well in the win, finishing with eight points and a game-high seven assists, trading roles in a way with Rajon Rondo.
"Paul kind of jokes and told me 'let's [swap] roles tonight' and he would make the plays and I'll just put it in the basket," said Rondo, who led all scorers with 21 points and had just two assists.
Pierce was followed into the trainer's room by Celtics president of basketball operations and general manager Danny Ainge, the man who would have a large amount of say in whether or not Pierce gets traded. While the Celtics have struggled out of the gate this season, Pierce is a local icon and franchise legend, and it's unlikely that he'll be dealt.
"He's still our leader," Rondo said in regards to the trade rumors surrounding Pierce. "He's the captain. We all lead different ways. It's a team effort. Obviously we have a great veteran team, so it all doesn't just fall on Paul. I'm the point guard, it starts with me, I believe, and we go from there."
The rumors are disturbing to longtime Celtics fans, and likely to Pierce as well. Yet at the end of the day, it's a business, and that's something Rondo - who has had his name mentioned in countless rumors over the years - knows very well.
"I was [mentioned in rumors] a couple months ago. That's part of it," Rondo said. "I don't think anybody is actually safe until the trade deadline is over, but we don't play in that order. We're very focused on what we have and who we have in this locker room. We believe in each other and our team is coming along."
Pierce has played all 13-plus seasons of his career with the Celtics and is third on the franchises' list of all-time leading scorers. Pierce has 21,559 points in 974 career games in Boston.
For more Celtics and Raptors coverage, visit our team blogs, CelticsBlog and Raptors HQ.