C Kendrick Perkins and G Nate Robinson were traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder for SF Jeff Green and C Nenad Krstic.
First, this trade shocked me. I love Perkins, as a player and as a guy. He is genuine off the court, and he works his tail off in games and in practice.
But as we all know the NBA is a business, and the Celts felt a deal had to happen.
The trade tells me a few things about the team's outlook.
What We Learned
1. Kendrick Perkins would not have been retained after the season. The Celtics know that Perkins's defensive prowess in the paint is a major asset, and Perk will likely garner numerous lucrative offers from teams willing to (over)pay for his services.
2. Boston is not worried about the Orlando Magic. Having Perkins gave the C's a clear advantage over the Magic, since he could guard Dwight Howard. However, Orlando is still trying to find an identity after re-tooling their roster.
The Heat, Bulls, Lakers, Spurs and Knicks are all more relevant to the Celtics than the Magic, and these teams should be.
The Celtics have the personnel to let Howard score his 30 points and snatch his 15 rebounds, but keep guys like Jameer Nelson, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu in check.
3. The Celtics are not sold on Perkins's offensive progression. Boston viewed Perkins as expendable simply because he was an offensive liability. Although he was able to hide his deficiencies through the play of the other starters, he was clearly a defensively oriented player.
Having both Rajon Rondo and Perk on the floor on offense was making the Celtics easier to defend.
Teams don't mind leaving Rondo alone (daring him to take jump shots), and can shade off of Perkins, relying on the time it took Perkins to hesitate, up-fake, or take the ball to the floor.
Essentially, opposition had free defenders to prevent Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce from scoring.
This brings me to my next point, why the trade makes sense for the Celtics.
It Makes Sense
Robinson was a high-energy defender and a light-it-up type scorer, and although fun to watch (on and off the court), he was inconsistent offensively.
Enter Delonte West, who can do what Nate Robinson does defensively, and even more offensively. West is significantly larger than Robinson, and he has a skill set of a natural point guard.
The Celtics have never truly been able to find a back up for Rondo, and West gives the second-unit a desperately needed point guard.
Now, in terms of what the Celtics got. Green is a good player. He has averaged just under 15 points per game in his young career, along with 5.8 rebounds per game.
The Celtics have been looking for somebody to replace James Posey since the lock-down defender and three-point specialist moved on to New Orleans, and they finally have found their answer.
Green is a tall forward, at 6-8, so he has the size to guard power forwards and small forwards (LeBron James, for instance), but the quickness to keep up with slashing 2-guards.
Krstic is young (27), but has seen his numbers take a dip this season. Nonetheless, he has averaged 10 points per game over his career, and is a player who (unlike Perkins) is an offensive threat with jump-shooting capabilities.
He is certainly not as much of a defensive presence, but at 7-0 he can block shots.
Also, people think that without Perkins the Celtics will be lost defensively. But Boston didn't look lost without him for the first half of the season, and defense is as much about being mentally strong as it is about being physically capable (as in guys can step in, embrace a way of playing, and add to their game).
Let's look at the starting lineup, post trade (assuming Krstic will have the starting job over Shaquille O'Neal).
Defenses now have four players to focus on, meaning less double teams keying in on the C's "big three". This makes the offense more dynamic.
Here's a look at Boston's much improved second unit.
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