|Celtics stun NBA, trade Kendrick Perkins||02.24.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
In moves that shook up the entire NBA, the Celtics pulled off three deadline deals that will affect them now and in the future. According to a source, team president Danny Ainge traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic.
In a separate deal, the Celtics also dealt rookies Luke Harangody and Semih Erden for a second-round draft pick. That deal is about clearing roster space for veteran free agents who are expected to be bought out of their contracts, most notably Troy Murphy.
The Celtics also traded Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for cash. As a player with Early Bird contract rights Daniels had the right to veto the trade, but his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said that he would not. They are more concerned with Daniels’ health than his career at the moment.
But it’s the initial deal that was so shocking. Perkins has recently returned from a torn ACL in his right knee and had moved quickly back into the starting lineup. But Perkins injured his left knee against the Warriors and was going to be held out of the rest of the team’s West Coast trip. With Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal also sidelined by injuries, Perkins was the only veteran center left standing.
With Perkins gone, the oft-repeated line from coach Doc Rivers that no one had ever defeated the Celtics with their starting five will stand.
Robinson, on the other hand, was rumored to be available for the last week. His inconsistent play, and the return of Delonte West made him expendable.
In return, the Celtics received Green and Krstic. Ironically, Green was drafted with the fifth pick in the 2007 draft, which the Celtics used to acquire Ray Allen. Green is averaging 15 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Thunder, but he is a poor 3-point shooter and not much of a rebounder for his size. Krstic is a veteran 7-footer who will help fill in some of the gaps left by Perkins, but the two are very different players.
There’s still more coming. The Celtics will have 12 players left on their roster. That opens the door for Ainge to sign as many as three veteran free agents. Murphy is one name who has been mentioned most prominently, although the Celtics figure to have competition from Miami, among other contenders.
Beyond this season, these moves could clear ample cap space for the future. Krstic will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and Green will be restricted. With only Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley under contract beyond the 2012 season, the Celtics could be prime players in the next great free agent class that is likely to include Dwight Howard, among others.
The present is cloudy at best. First and foremost will be restoring calm to a locker room that is among the tightest in the league. Perkins was a major force in that both on the court, and off. Second, is how Rivers intends to use Green who is a versatile forward. With Green and Glen Davis, the Celtics could use a variety of lineups to counter teams like Miami and the new-look Knicks.
|Celtics teach history lesson||03.29.09 at 10:37 pm ET|
On paper the biggest difference between the Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder is their records. The Celtics are atop the Atlantic Division with 60 wins while the Thunder have 40 less. But the Celtics also have an advantage that the Thunder cannot attain in a single season ‘ one of the deepest histories in the NBA.
On Sunday the Thunder made the first trip of their inaugural season the TD BankNorth Garden. (Click here for the recap of the Celtics 103-84 win.) The Celtics legacy was not lost on the Thunder squad.
‘Inspirational,’ Jeff Green said of playing in the Garden. ‘That’s the point we want to get at. They won championships and that’s what we want to do. But it takes a lot of focus. You’ve got to play defense. This is our first season. It’s going to take some time. We’ve got to be patient, we’ve got to continue to work hard to get to the point where stuff is working.’
Green was drafted by the Celtics in 2007 and traded to the then-Seattle SuperSonics as part of the Ray Allen deal. He played in Boston last season but this time it was different in a Thunder uniform.
‘We have to establish who we want to be,’ he said. ‘As of right now, we’re working on that. But we want to be a defensive-minded team. We want to be able to stop people when it counts. We want to be able to make our opportunities count when we get those stops. And I think right now we’re in the process of forming our identity but we’ve just got to continue to work at it.’
Rookie Russell Westbrook also has his own ties to the Celtics. The Lawndale, California native, and former UCLA Bruin, grew up as a Los Angeles Lakers fan. Even though he rooted against the Celtics, he appreciates their tradition.
‘It’s kind of like a dream come true growing up, watching the Celtics and Lakers play,’ Westbrook said of his first game in Boston. ‘I’ve seen the old games and things like that. It’s kind of where you planned on being announced.’
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks hopes his young team will learn a thing or two from the Celtics victory.
‘One of things that we will learn is, pick up from this team, is there is a reason why they are a championship team,’ he said. ‘They compete every time they are on the court. They execute throughout the game. They don’t just do it in spurts. It’s something that we have to continue to get better at — play 48 minutes of execution and do a better job of just playing with toughness down the stretch.’
Xs and Os aside, the Thunder can take more than a loss away with them.
‘It motivates you to want to get better, to want to be at that championship level,’ Green said. ‘It’s an honor to play in a building where some of the greats, Bill Russell, who have banners hanging up, Larry Bird, Parish, all those guys. They paved the way and made it possible to do what we do today. But we’ve got to build our own type of history. We have to start somewhere. And I think the more that we work, the better and better we get and the closer we wil get to that championship level.’