BOSTON — Marcus Thornton’s meeting with the media Wednesday night was nothing out of the ordinary.
After scoring 14 points in the Celtics’ 89-88 upset of the Atlanta Hawks, the reserve guard spoke about his hot third quarter, his fearlessness when it comes to taking big shots, his plans for the eight-day All-Star break — all standard postgame fare.
But in the backs of the gathered reporters’ minds — and, undoubtedly, in Thornton’s as well — was the notion that this might be the final time the 27-year-old sets foot in the home locker room at TD Garden.
The Celtics do not play again until after the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline, and Thornton, as a veteran on a young, rebuilding team, could very well be shipped out of town in Danny Ainge’s ongoing effort to retool the franchise and add to its war chest of draft picks.
This will be a week of soul-searching for Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, and his staff, who must decide whether to push on in hopes of possibly snagging a playoff spot or to cut bait and aim for as high a lottery pick as possible.
Thornton, for one, seems to be enjoying himself in Boston.
“Yeah, I am (happy with the Celtics),” he said. “My teammates are great. They’re young. I’m kind of like an old head on this team, which I don’t like to say — so none of y’all better not say it either. But it’s great. The way we interact with each other, it’s great. This is one of the funnest teams I’ve been on.”
That fun group is by no means constructed to contend for a championship or even ready to win a playoff series, but it has played some solid — albeit inconsistent — basketball of late. The Celtics’ win over Atlanta in their final game before the All-Star break was their seventh in their last 12 contests, and they enter the layoff just 1 1/2 games out of the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed.
The most likely candidates to be moved — Thornton, Tayshaun Prince and Brandon Bass — all play key roles in Brad Stevens’ rotation when healthy, which has the head coach hoping the deadline comes and goes without much ruckus.
“I’d love for us to have as little movement as possible,” Stevens said, “but I understand that (the front office) guys will do their jobs, and they’ll take everything and look at it, and figure out how best to move forward with our team.”
In the end, basketball is a business. Thornton, who was dealt from the Sacramento Kings to the Brooklyn Nets at last year’s deadline, knows this all too well.
“I’m just trying to go home and enjoy my family,” Thornton said. “I haven’t seen them in a long time — mom, brothers — so I’m going to use that time to take off and kind of forget about basketball a little bit.
“But wherever I’m at, I’m ready to go.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images