Celtics  owner Wyc Grousbeck stopped in for a visit with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss how close Kevin Garnett  and Paul Pierce  were to being traded last week, the prospect of being a better team without Rajon Rondo , and more Celtics topics.
Pierce and Garnett were the subjects of many trade rumors leading up to last week’s trade deadline.
“For the last two or three days before the deadline, their names came up more than anybody else,” Grousbeck said. “They were the topic of conversations of calls coming into us because people thought maybe we weren’t going to keep it together this spring.
“The assumption going into any February, as long as I’m around, is going to be: Make the team better for this year. Don’t blow it up in the middle of February if you’re in a playoff position.”
The Celtics are 30-27 and hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They are 2½ games behind the Bulls for the sixth seed, and 2½ games ahead of the eighth-seeded Bucks.
“If we were 5-50 or whatever, we’d be pretty likely to do almost anything to make that better,” Grousbeck said. “But I like the way this team has been playing. We need some help, though. We need some more guys. … The icing on the cake was losing [Leandro] Barbosa. [He] was really playing well, lot of energy, defensive intensity, some length, some offense.”
After this season, Pierce will have one more year left on his contract with the Celtics. Grousbeck talked about the likelihood of the captain retiring in a Celtics uniform.
“We’re going to retire his number, whatever happens,” Grousbeck said. “Paul is an all-time great. Just watching him last night, he looked like he was 25 again. … People can’t say ‘Big deal, they’re playing for two hours. What’s the big hardship?’ It’s a grind and that was a grind last night in overtime and everything else. They could have folded up the tent and they didn’t.”
Grousbeck also discussed the league salary cap and what the aim of that is.
“What we’re trying to do in the league, and we did this in partnership with the players, is to make more of the teams competitive,” Grousbeck said. “That’s just a thing we all decided together, particularly in this last collective bargaining.”
The Celtics are 10-4 since Rondo’s season-ending injury, but his absence surely will be felt come playoff time. In last season’s run to the Eastern Conference finals, Rondo averaged 17.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 11.9 assists per game.
Said Grousbeck: “Just think of these last couple of games and what Rondo would have meant with his intensity, with his defense, with his creative offense and passing. … There’s a lot of great things that happened [without Rondo], but Rondo would have helped.”