Celtics Make Curious Deadline Decision, Trade Kendrick Perkins

Of all of the teams in the top half of the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics were the club you’d least expect to make a move. The Miami Heat still need an extra piece or two on the bench at the point guard and center spots before their team can be considered complete, the Chicago Bulls were desperately after a shooing guard that they could add with their stellar core to replace Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans, and the Orlando Magic have been in a rut for a while now and a move was all but necessary for them to have a real shot at a title this season.

But Boston? When this day began, they had a group of players that had been to the NBA Finals twice before and had a core that knew how to win. They had a decent mix between youth and veterans and they sat at the top of the Eastern Conference. Despite some health problems, the Celtics weren’t missing anything and once the playoffs begin, their key rotation players likely would have been healthy and ready to go.

But Boston didn’t feel the same way, apparently. While the Heat, Bulls and Magic ended up standing pat at the deadline, it was the Celtics that completed three trades. The two minor deals that Boston made were with the Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers. The C’s sent forward Marquis Daniels and cash to the Kings for a future draft pick, a move that create cap space and a roster spot for Boston. Additionally, Boston traded forward Luke Harangody and center Semih Erden to the Cavs for a second round pick.

While those deals are relatively harmless to the Celtics’ playoff chances as none of those guys were going to make a major difference in the post-season, the stunner of the day that they pulled off with the Oklahoma City Thunder will have large and likely negative effects.

Boston sent defensive stalwart Kendrick Perkins and combo guard Nate Robinson to the Thunder in exchange for tweener forward Jeff Green and power forward Nenad Krstic.

Essentially, the Celtics dealt their best defensive player not named Kevin Garnett because they were unsure if they would be able to resign him in the off-season. Perkins rejected an extension Boston him earlier in the year and trading him for some assets was their best idea to clear up the situation before the summer. While you can see why you’d want to get yourself some talent while you could for someone that will likely leave in the off-season, this is far different from the Carmelo Anthony situation.

The Boston Celtics had, and still have, a great chance to win the NBA Championship this season while the Nuggets were a team destined for a first round exit even with their superstar. Perkins is not a superstar but he was a necessary piece for the Celtics to have in order to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals or even the Orlando Magic in the semi’s. Perkins is a top of the line individual defender for a center and his defense on Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum played a huge part in all of the Celtics’ wins over the Magic and Lakers in the playoffs last year.

Now who are the Celtics going to guard Dwight Howard or Gasol or Bynum with? Jermaine O’Neal? Not if they want to get a stop. Shaq? Not if they want to stay below the penalty or stop the pick and roll at least once a game. Krstic? Come on now.

On the floor, the Celtics lose their second best defensive player that was relied upon to guard two of the top three centers in basketball during the playoffs last season and they have nobody that is nearly as good as him on that end to replace him. Off the floor, the Celtics’ veterans are complaining. They are mad that their enforcer was dealt and for nothing special in return, no less. Kevin Garnett loved having Perkins behind him to help out defensively and Rajon Rondo was as close with Perkins as anyone else on the team as the two were the “other guys” when the big three won the title in 2008. So not only does this trade make the Celtics a worse basketball team, their team chemistry, which has been excellent for two straight seasons, may also suffer with the loss of Perkins.

Some experts have declared this move a sign that the Celtics’ front office doesn’t like their teams chances this post-season and is starting to look ahead. While I don’t agree that they have fully given up on the season, their chances of winning the NBA Championship have definitely decreased with this deal and though their goal in this trade was clearly to get assets for the future, they did a poor job with that as well.

Jeff Green is the centerpiece of the deal and even though he was anointed as the third member of the Thunder’s big three in Oklahoma City, he’s a very overrated player. At six-foot-nine Green is stuck somewhere inbetween being a small forward and a power forward and although he’s considered by most as a four, he doesn’t defend bigs well at all and his rebounding is atrocious – on three occasions this season, Green has grabbed zero rebounds in over 27 minutes of game time.  Green’s niche on offense has been as a floor stretch power forward and the Thunder have had some success with him in that role in the past, but this season they weren’t as lucky. Green is shooting just 30% from three-point range on the season while attempting a career high 3.8 triples per game.

I’m not quite sure what the Celtics plan to do with Green. They aren’t going to play him any meaningful minutes in the playoffs because the only position for which minutes are available is center. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are way to important to what Boston does on offense and defense respectively to take them out of the game in the fourth quarter, especially for a guy like Green, who has given me little reason to believe he could make a difference late in a meaningful ball game (he averaged 11 points and five rebounds on 33% shooting against the Lakers in the playoffs last year). Green will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, so the Celtics can match any offer for him during the summer, but do they really need a 3/4 tweener with one or two discernable skills? Even if their primary goal right now was to rebuild, this was a poor place to start.

The Clippers’ 2012 first round pick was a nice get for the Celtics, but it’s protected over the top 10 picks until 2017, so that may end up being an average pick rather than a great one. This was an odd move for the Celtics, who seemed destined to meet with the Lakers in the NBA Finals for the second straight year. Instead, they created a big weakness for themselves defensively at the center position and when the likes of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and even Joakim Noah are potential opponents in the post-season, that will end up biting the Celtics in the backside.

But hey, at least they got Jeff Green, right?

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Author: (2411 Articles)

Mark is an 18-year old sports fanatic that founded this website back in October of 2008. He is the lead contributor for this site and a credentialed member of the media for several sports leagues and organizations. Mark's main focus is the NBA, though he also covers MLB, NFL, and International events like the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. Follow Mark on Twitter: @Mark_Travis

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