Boston Celtics: Why KG and the Big 3 Are Irate at Kendrick Perkins Trade

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2011

Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have all been upset over the trading of center Kendrick Perkins, with whom the three won an NBA Championship
Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have all been upset over the trading of center Kendrick Perkins, with whom the three won an NBA Championship

On Wednesday, just before the trading deadline, the Boston Celtics shocked the basketball world.  In a move that saddened their fans, the team traded center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder.  In return, the Thunder sent forward/guard Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic to Boston.

Not surprisingly, the Celtics "Big Three" are not happy.  They had a starting lineup of five players who had won an NBA championship together and had made the NBA Finals last season, and team management decided to break it up for no good reason.  Let's take a look at the players involved.

Boston gave up Kendrick Perkins, an eight-year veteran who never scored many points or crashed the boards with authority, but was still a tough big man in the middle with good size at 6'10" and 280 pounds.  At the same time, though, Perkins is coming off of major knee surgery and has only played in 12 games this season.  Also, the Celtics are the top team in the Eastern Conference.  They were doing fine without him.

Nate Robinson is essentially a throw-in to the trade for salary cap reasons, so Boston clearly doesn't value him too much.  Still, when he's on his game, Robinson is a three-point threat and even shows tremendous defensive ability with his four-foot vertical leap.

Now let's look at who the Thunder gave up.  Jeff Green was a star player at Georgetown who was drafted fifth overall by the Celtics in the 2007 NBA draft.  Yet, he was immediately traded to the Thunder (then the Seattle SuperSonics) in the deal that sent Ray Allen to Boston.  He was a solid contributor for the Sonics/Thunder, averaging 14 points and a little over five rebounds in three-and-a-half seasons, but took a backseat to the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant tandem.

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Green is a good player at small forward, but will ride the bench in Boston as Paul Pierce already has that spot in the lineup.

The other player the Thunder sent to Boston was seven-footer Nenad Krstic.  This was an awful decision, as Krstic has neither the physical nor offensive presence of Perkins.  Doc Rivers noted that the starting five of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Perkins had never lost a playoff series the past few years.  So why would team management upset the apple cart?

I'd be lying if I said that Boston's Big Three weren't upset about this trade.  In fact, Garnett and Pierce have already expressed their disappointment in losing Perkins.

"It's not even about a teammate," said Garnett.  "You feel like you've lost a family member today.  Tough day."

Garnett makes a very fair point.  When a group of players like Boston's recent starting five have been playing together for that long, they become more than just guys on the same team.  They do, in fact, become something of a family.  Paul Pierce was just as upset about the move.

"It is definitely a blow when you lose a guy like Perk who's been in playoff battles, been tested, gives us size and defense—especially when you're going against guys like Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol—if we make it to the Finals and play the Lakers," Pierce said.  "Hopefully we can make up for it in other ways."

Right now, the Celtics have no choice but to "make up for it" in other ways.  Their only options at center right now are a mediocre Krstic, an aging Shaquille O'Neal and the oft-injured Jermaine O'Neal.  Unless Doc Rivers decides to start Glen "Big Baby" Davis at center, the team's hopes for going far in the playoffs are slim.

I'm honestly in shock as to why general manager Danny Ainge even considered this trade.

Sure, Perkins could have irritated the front office with his reluctance to sign a long-term contract to remain with the team, but that's no reason to unload him.  It's his right to test the free-agency market, and if he truly loved playing in Boston as much as he claimed, he almost certainly would have re-signed with the Celtics when the time came.  Instead, Ainge chose not to take that risk and has now put the Celtics' chances at winning a championship in serious jeopardy.

All in all, the Celtics will probably be fine.  They proved for the first few months of the season that they could win without Perkins, but that fact remains to be seen come playoff time.  It will be different when the players need to defend the likes of Dwight Howard or Chris Bosh game after game. Only then will the concerns of Garnett, Allen and Pierce come to light.

Only at that point will the Celtics front office truly understand who they gave up in Kendrick Perkins.


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