This season, Perkins's return was going to give the Celtics the consistency they needed in the starting five. As Doc Rivers always said, Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Perkins never lost a playoff series when all five were healthy.
Instead, the Celtics traded away Perkins. They traded away the size that allowed them to compete with the league's dominant big men like Dwight Howard. Then they traded away Semih Erden, the 7-foot Turkish center who was starting to develop because Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal were never healthy.
The Celtics are one of the best teams in basketball, a favorite to represent the East in the Finals. But can Shaq and Erden lead them there?
Shaq returns this week. With Shaq in the starting lineup, the Celtics are 27-9. In other words, the Celtics didn't have Perkins for much of the season and were still one of the best teams in basketball. Past experiences are not evidence of future returns, and the Celtics can still be a dominant team without Perkins.
Krstic is a similar player to Erden. Both are hard-working big men who can score, but often struggle to rebound against the league's elite big men. Krstic has more experience, so the Celtics might have upgraded that center slot marginally.
Regardless, championships rest on what the starters can do.
If Shaq stays healthy for the rest of the season and can give the Celtics quality minutes, the Celtics will make the Eastern Conference Finals and have a shot at an NBA championship. It's as simple as that.
The addition of Jeff Green; however, gives the Celtics another guy they can count on after the "Big Three" are gone. Besides Rajon Rondo, the Celtics don't have a single reliable player for life after the "Big Three." That all changed with the Jeff Green addition.
Green also gives the Celtics a change of pace off the bench that they have never had. Green might be one of the best sixth men in the league.
So while the Celtics might have broken even this year (if Shaq stays healthy), they are undeniably in a better position for the future.