NBA Trade Deadline 2011: Boston Celtics and OKC Thunder Deal, Winners and Losers
The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder got in just under the clock to complete a peripheral, but important, trade. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic are packing their scarves and winter coats for Boston and will wave hello to Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson on their way to Oklahoma City.
This was a move that was unexpected and unheard of until reports were calling it finalized. It took many by surprise that both teams, considered contenders in their respective conferences, would shake up their rosters in such a profound way.
As always, this NBA trade did not happen in a vacuum; players from each team, the teams as wholes and other teams will feel the ripple in some way. There are definite winners and losers to any NBA deal, and this one is no exception.
Let's break down some of the winners and losers from Thursday's Celtics-Thunder swap.
Winner: Nate Robinson
Unless he's on a team blessed with four true point guards, Nate will always have something unique that will earn him good PT. That thing is an uncommon energy. Boston had it; now OKC has it.
Don't underestimate the loss of Nate Rob for Boston. I'm a decided Nate Rob critic (stemming from his outspoken smack-talking ways against my Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals), but even I have to admit that he brings something off the bench with him that gets a team going while starters rest.
The Celtics needed it, and maybe they didn't appreciate it enough. Now Nate is gone, and they have zero backup PGs on their roster.
Robinson moves from contender with little PG depth to the same. He should get minutes in front of Eric Maynor and in tandem with James Harden.
The Thunder will appreciate his energy off a bench that usually comes at opponents with Serge Ibaka, Harden and Nick Collison. Add Nate to that mix and you've got capable players one through nine.
Loser: Jeff Green
The fourth-year Green has established himself as a very solid third option for the Thunder while turning himself into a three-point shooter and rebounder.
It's a shame he won't get to show off his development in Boston.
Green can play both the small and power forward spots, which the Celtics happen to be loaded at. At power forward there's Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis. At SF are Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels. The Celtics can reassure themselves of depth by saying they are three deep at those positions, but what good is depth if you don't use it?
Is Green going to don the Celtic green and white and play 30 minutes a game while Davis and Daniels sit the bench? I doubt it, which means that Green won't be playing as much as he should play.
Now when Glen Davis replaces Garnett and Pierce stays in the game, Green rots on the bench. He might strictly sub in for Pierce and never rotate up to PF, both of which are positions that belong to starters for at least 33-36 minutes a game.
The Celtics added a weapon, but how many bullets do they have to load it with?
Winner: Nenad Krstic
The 27-year-old Yugoslavian center has had Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison breathing down his neck for playing time for the last two seasons, but has maintained his starting spot. Still, he's averaging just 21.7 minutes a game this season.
Because he was exchanged for Kendrick Perkins, he will assume Boston's starting center job with little competition. Both O'Neals are injured, old and incapable of playing in the upper crust of the East, so Krstic is a major winner here.
He's playing for a new contract, so you can bet that he will be plenty motivated to perform.
Loser: Western Conference Elites with Scoring Big Men
Kendrick Perkins is moving to a team with plenty of scoring, so he can focus on rebounding, protecting the rim and blocking shots. This is something that the Thunder have not had and why many thought they made a mistake in not trading for Marcus Camby last season.
Now Perkins is moving West to terrorize the Tim Duncans, Andrew Bynums, Pau Gasols and Al Jeffersons, who go mostly unimpeded to their points.
It remains to be seen exactly how Perk fits with the Thunder's young, spry and upbeat style, especially with Serge Ibaka in tow, but this is big upgrade on defense for OKC.
Winning Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Celtics might have gotten what they were after, but the Thunder clearly won this trade. They got a spark plug with championship experience to back up Russell Westbrook and a physical rim protector in exchange for two guys who don't really do any one thing that well.
Their rotation projects like this:
C Kendrick Perkins —> Serge Ibaka, Cole Aldrich
PF Nick Collison/Serge Ibaka —> Serge Ibaka/Nick Collison
SF Kevin Durant —> Daequan Cook
SG Thabo Sefolosha —> James Harden
PG Russell Westbrook —> Nate Robinson
The starting lineup might be a little weaker and less of a fit at PF without Green, but the rotation gets a little bit deeper with Robinson there.
Losing Team: Boston Celtics
They were fine the way they were. I don't understand the need to make this trade. Perkins' contract is expiring and Robinson's has one more year, but it's not like they dealt them for a pair of locked-up deals: both Krstic and Green are expiring as well. The Celtics risk losing both of them at the end of their 2011 run for nothing, which would cripple their depth, especially at center.
Green is a talented player who will be the most versatile off the bench, but I reiterate the concern about how much he'll get off the bench. This is a team with a rotation that is in concrete and will not budge for anyone, especially during a title run. I don't see where Green, the main piece in the deal, fits in seamlessly to contribute.
Krstic is a departure from what Boston is about at center. Perkins never worried about scoring, only making sure that no opposing center was comfortable or safe in the paint. Krstic lacks toughness and physicality, which will hurt Boston against Miami, Chicago and especially Orlando.
It seems like the Celtics win or lose games by how their post play is, and knowing that, they went and markedly downgraded in toughness at center. Perplexing.