On February 24, Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would make arguably the most significant move of the season.
Starting center Kendrick Perkins was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the dynamic of this season's Celtics team was immediately changed.
In return, the Celtics acquired Thunder starting center Nenad Krstic and starting forward Jeff Green. On March 2, the Celtics also signed free-agent power forward Troy Murphy, with the hopes to add more depth to the injured frontcourt rotation.
Since the acquisition of Jeff Green from the Thunder and Troy Murphy from free agency, the Celtics are undefeated, winning the five games with Green and three with Murphy.
Losing a starting center that was a key piece on a championship team and title contending teams in recent years is a difficult fact to face for some Celtics fans.
The question then becomes: "Was it worth it?"
Join me and B/R in analyzing why the addition of Green and Murphy and the departure of the team's former starting center in Perkins may have been the right move Ainge's part.
Jeff Green and Troy Murphy have yet to receive heavy minutes, but have both proven their offensive worth before joining the Celtics.
Last season with the Indiana Pacers, Murphy averaged 14.6 points per game in 32.0 minutes per game. Since then Murphy has been given less than half the minutes he received with the Pacers.
Once he has time to adjust and Rivers allows him more minutes to operate, his averages of 1.0 point and 2.6 rebounds a contest will quickly change.
Against the Celtics, Murphy averaged well above his season average in points, scoring 20.5 points per game.
Green may be in his fourth year this season, but has played started minutes since his second year in the league.
This season Green has produced offensively for the C's, scoring 10 points per game in 21.8 minutes a contest. Per 48 minutes, Green averages 22 points for the Celtics in five games with the team.
Perkins 7.3 points a contest in just over 26 minutes is significantly lower than the combined production of Murphy and Green; granted, it wasn't what the Rivers or the Celtics necessarily looked for in the big fella.
Green and Murphy: 1
If Kendrick Perkins role as a Celtic player was put into one sentence, it would more than likely read the following: contest shots in the lane, take care of the defensive glass and play physical and composed one-on-one defense against the other team's post threat.
Some would argue Perkins was able to fulfill the role, while also having the experience of winning a championship with the team in the 2007-2008 season as the team's starting center.
He and Kevin Garnett were also the supposed anchors of the defense, which made his departure all the more significant.
Green has proven in his short career in the big leagues that his athleticism allows him play perimeter defense against the best of them.
He may not be as sound as Perkins would on the defensive end, but he gets the job done. This season with the Thunder, Green averaged 5.6 rebounds a game.
Murphy is not exactly a player considered a threat on the defensive end, but does rebound the basketball fairly well.
He has averaged no more than 0.7 blocks per game in a season, and has yet to block a shot for the Celtics in three games with the team.
When it comes to being a defensive presence, the nod has to go to Perkins.
Green and Murphy: 1
Adding Murphy and Green to the rotation allows veteran starters in Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett a significant amount more rest before the 2011 postseason.
In fact, all three players pictured may arguably need the rest as much as any Celtics player, as the addition of Murphy would also allow Shaquille O'Neal more rest to recover from injury.
In the five games before Perkins was dealt, Pierce had played over 35 minutes four different times, two games of which reached the 40-minute mark.
With playoffs just over a month away, Rivers and company couldn't have been pleased with the amount of minutes their veteran scorer was having to play.
Acquiring Jeff Green from Oklahoma City changed that.
Since the trade, Pierce has played 36.7 minutes per game, and has shot the ball over 63 percent from the floor.
With Green as another scoring threat, it also allows Pierce to be more selective with his shot attempts, making for higher-percentage looks.
In the weeks leading up to the playoffs, look for Pierce's minutes to decrease slightly, as Rivers will more than likely look to rest Pierce for postseason play.
With Marquis Daniels going down to injury, there was no concrete backup player for Pierce. After dealing Perkins and acquiring Green, Pierce will be able to play fewer minutes, as will Garnett, with Murphy's minutes likely to slightly increase in the final weeks.
Green and Murphy: 2
As the trade deadline was approaching, Ainge, Rivers and the Celtics organization had to make a decision: keep Kendrick Perkins for his final year and risk losing him to free agency, or trade him for value and risk winning the championship this season.
In the end, the Celtics would decide to get value for Perkins, as it was rumored he would likely not sign with the Celtics before the 2011-2012 season.
Perkins looked for double the $4.6 million he was making this season, which was an offer Ainge felt was much to great to match. He was also uninterested in a long-term contract with the team.
Undoubtedly, from a defensive and experience standpoint, the Celtics' chances to win the title have taken a hit.
Strategically speaking, however, the Celtics may have made the right move.
They saved money, obtained a young talent with starter's minutes experience in Jeff Green and big men in Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy, who add a new offensive dimension inside that Perkins did not provide.
Had the Celtics waited until next year, there would be no value in return for Perkins, for his contract would have ended.
Thus far the trade has proven to have worked, as the Celtics are 5-0 since the arrival of Green and Krstic and 3-0 since Murphy's signing. Adding role players in Sasha Pavolvic and Carlos Arroyo to the mix should also help their chances at contending for a title.
Make no mistake: Perkins will be missed, but the transaction made clear that Ainge also has the team's future in mind.
Green and Murphy: 3