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Monday, February 4, 2013

Celtics don’t see blockbuster deal looming

The Los Angeles Clippers’ Chauncey Billups, inactive since Dec. 5 with tendinitis in his left foot, went out to dinner at Strega Waterfront with an interesting group Saturday night – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, the players’ wives, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Could the meeting, originally reported by the Boston Herald’s Inside Track, have to do with the Celts’ need for a point guard and a show of interest in their 1997 first-round draft pick? ...

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The Los Angeles Clippers’ Chauncey Billups, inactive since Dec. 5 with tendinitis in his left foot, went out to dinner at Strega Waterfront with an interesting group Saturday night – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, the players’ wives, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Could the meeting, originally reported by the Boston Herald’s Inside Track, have to do with the Celts’ need for a point guard and a show of interest in their 1997 first-round draft pick?

A Celtics source familiar with the meeting was unsure at best with the following text: “We are not really looking at anything. Who knows (if something will happen)? I doubt it.”

A published report about the Clippers’ willingness to trade Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler for Garnett appears even more of a non-starter. Bledsoe has played so well in the absence of Chris Paul – witness his 23-point, 10-assist, seven-rebound performance during Sunday’s 106-104 Celtics win – that the Clippers are far less inclined to deal him now. Butler is also said to be a non-starter in any trade talk.

The Clippers are also committed to avoiding the luxury tax – an apparent dead end, considering the $12.5 million Garnett is earning this season.

Overall, the C’s remain cautious about filling their two remaining roster spots.

“We haven’t talked about it – we obviously can because we need a body. But we haven’t much at all,” Rivers said. “Danny (Ainge, president of basketball operations) is doing all of the work now, and this week or in two weeks he’ll come in with a long list of scenarios. I’m interested if it’s someone good. If Michael Jordan is out there in street clothes and can still play, we’d take him. I like our team, but you always want to bring someone in if they can help your team.”

Perhaps the biggest longshot of all is Greg Oden, the 2007 No. 1 pick who has only played 82 games in his career because of repeated knee surgeries.

“I said hi to him, and we reminisced about high school days when I saw him in AAU, but other than that I thought far more about the guys we’re playing tonight rather than next year,” Rivers said.

Optimism for Rondo

Billups, who went through a lengthy recovery from Achilles surgery last year, is well-acquainted with the steps back to normalcy that await Rajon Rondo once the Celtics point guard has knee surgery and begins his rehabilitation.

“I’m pretty sure that age will work for him. It will be great for him in that situation,” Billups said. “(Science and treatment) is totally different from how it used to be for guys. You look at these guys coming back now – (Iman) Shumpert, (Derrick Rose) is about to come back. It’s kind of typical now for guys to come right back.

“Mine was just last year. He had an ACL and mine was an Achilles, and mine might have been a little tougher to come back from. But he’s getting the best of the best. He’ll work his behind off, and I expect we’ll see the same old Rondo.”

The greatest obstacle – as Rivers predicted two days ago for both Rondo and Jared Sullinger (back surgery) – may be the potential for mental distraction.

“It’s a tough process, it’s a humbling process,” Billiups said. “Physically is tough, you have to work hard, but you’re accustomed to working hard physically. There’s a mental component that’s not talked about that much, but there’s some depressing times that you go through. There’s dark days you have because you’re working so hard, and sometimes it feels like you’re not making progress.

“But all of that being said, he’s going to come back stronger than ever because he’ll be working so hard that he’ll be in a zone,” he said. “He’s working so hard, he’ll be better.”

Wilcox getting better

Chris Wilcox, like every other member of the Celtics bench, appears to be thriving in Rivers’ accelerated system. Sunday the power forward made the most of his four minutes on the floor with four points on 2-for-2 shooting. Better production will earn more minutes.

“He’s spotty, and we want him to be more consistent,” Rivers said. “We talk about guys doing their jobs – he has one great job he has to do, and that’s to be our energy guy defensively and on offense he has to run the floor. He has to do that consistently and I don’t think he’s done that yet. But he’s got better.”