It seems like Thursday’s trade by Boston of sending center Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic was made by the Celtics with Boston more focused on winning the East than the NBA Finals. And for the Thunder? They may have just gotten the piece they needed to truly challenge the Lakers and Spurs.
I say that Boston is more focused on the East because they just got a lot smaller, whereas before they dealt Perkins the Celtics were maybe the only NBA team with the size – Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal – to challenge the Lakers’ massive frontcourt of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. Remember that Boston seemed poised to steal last season’s NBA Finals before Perkins went down with a serious injury in Game 6.
But there is no team in the Eastern Conference like the Lakers – the Heat have very little bulk down low but are amazingly athletic. The Bulls are solid with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson. The Magic have Dwight Howard and nothing else. The Knicks might be the worst team in the league at center with Ronny Turiaf starting and Amare Stoudemire often playing out of position at center.
So from an athletic standpoint to match up better with the Heat, in particular, adding Green and Krstic makes sense. Green is averaging 15.2 points and 5.6 rebounds this season as the third option for the Thunder behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In his third season in the league, he has averaged 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Green was fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft by Boston and was traded to the Seatte SuperSonics in the Ray Allen deal. Green will essentially replace Marquis Daniels, who is likely out for the year. He is the small forward the Celtics had been seeking and will give coach Doc Rivers many lineup options because he can also play power forward.
But now Boston is counting an awful lot on the two O’Neals and KG to stay healthy, and none of the three has proven able to do that the past few seasons. Boston even traded rookie center Semih Erden on Thursday (with Luke Harangody) for a draft pick. The C’s are much smaller today but a ton more athletic – Krstic mostly hangs around the perimeter.
As for the Thunder, they thought they were going to lose Green after this season anyways. OKC has plenty of scoring but needed a wide body to deal with the Lakers and San Antonio. Perkins, if he can stay healthy, will provide that. However, it won’t be right away as Perkins is out at least a week after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He missed 43 games this season recovering from right knee surgery. Perkins also can become a free agent this summer.
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