Ok, we're all freaking out because Kendrick Perkins is no longer a Celtic. It's a jarring move that is hard to explain. Perkins has been a defensive monster and is a huge reason why the Celtics have been able to get past Orlando in the East.
But at a time like this, its easy to forget a lot of the criticisms that have been thrown his way. I remember in the playoffs people were calling him a liability on offense. Earlier this year, when Shaq was healthy, people wanted to start him for the rest of the year.
So it's not as if everyone in Boston was completely sold on Kendrick Perkins. Add to that his knee issues and contract situation, and it's possible Danny Ainge figured parting with him now was palatable. Call it a lesser version of the Melo/Williams scenario. I'm in no way a fan of this move, but when you take all things into account, I can at least see a little bit of the reasoning. I'm not so sure how the rest of the team is going to like it. That starting five has been through some wars. Those guys love Perk. They won't like this.
This also must mean that the C's are comfortable with Shaquille O'Neal's health. For them to be OK with getting rid of Perkins and getting Nenad Krstic in return, they have to know O'Neal will be healthy enough to play meaningful minutes. It also shows that they are happy with Glen Davis, and comfortable giving him some time defending a guy like Dwight Howard.
Oh, speaking of Dwight…. as Zach Lowe put so nicely on Twitter… if they're not paying Perkins an extension, that leaves the books open in 2012 for a potential max free agent to come to town. As of right now, only Pierce and Rondo are signed beyond 2011/12. We'll just file that under "something to keep in the back of your mind"
Back to this season. The C's get Nenad Krstic, whom I've called a punk in the past, to fill the hole at center. He's in the last year of his deal, which pays him $5.8 million this year. He's not going to wow anyone, but he's capable of scoring a few points and grabbing a few rebounds. He won't be the defender Perkins was, but few people are. He is, however, better offensively… so that should be noted.
The C's also get Jeff Green… who is an interesting guy. He's 6'9", 235 and can fill the hole behind Paul Pierce right now. He's been asked to play a lot of the 4, but he's not really a power forward. His shooting percentages are down this year, especially from 3. But he IS averaging 15.2 ppg and 5.6 rpg. Not stellar rebounding numbers for a power forward, but if he plays in a more natural 3 spot, who knows if he'll be more comfortable.
Meanwhile, the C's jettisoned Nate Robinson… a nice guy with a great attitude but a horribly frustrating style of play. He's never been comfortable in the back up point guard role, and it's hard to say whether he would have snapped out of it now that Delonte is back. The return of Delonte, however, did make him expendable. I love Nate's passion and effort… but he was just not working here.
On top of all that, the Celtics got the Clippers 2012 first round pick. It's top-10 protected, but it's an asset that Danny can use in an offseason trade or to get young talent in for the future.
So to sum up the first deal of the day: It hurts. It hurts to lose Kendrick Perkins and it hurts to see your enforcer, a popular team-first player and hard-nosed defender, go away. Nenad Krstic does not make up for that loss and I don't like it one bit. BUT… this isn't going to torpedo the Celtics quest for a title, either. The Celtics still have the Big 4, they clearly think Shaq will be able to come back and be fine, they're putting a lot of faith in Glen Davis, and they think they can figure out a way to get past Orlando even without Perk. Plus, Jeff Green is a good young player that can easily step in and fill in for Marquis Daniels quite well. And getting rid of Nate is a little bit of addition by subtraction.
The shock of this trade made it seem like the C's got hosed, but it's really not as bad as it seems. Taking the emotional attachment to Perk away from this (which is hard, I'll admit), this isn't the killer we all thought it might be when we first heard about it. The Celtics have beaten Miami twice without Kendrick Perkins. The Celtics have beaten Orlando without Perkins. It can be done. It will be much more difficult, but it's not impossible.
On top of all this, the Celtics cleared three roster spots by sending Luke and Semih to Cleveland for a second round pick and Quis to Sacramento for cash. So Danny Ainge clearly isn't done yet. We will have to see what he does with those three open spots before we fully pass judgement on this sudden reconstruction of the Boston Celtics.
I'll say this, though: A lot of the shine came off of Danny Ainge today. He's got some sack trading a universally loved guy like Kendrick Perkins. He has pissed off the fans and the players and it's not going to be easy to swallow the "this is a business" line this time around… for anyone. And I'm skeptical of anyone who deals with Sam Presti. I haven't seen many teams come out on top of those kinds of deals.
But Danny has done so before when he got Ray Allen for Wally, Delonte and the pick that became Jeff Green. And now Delonte and Green play for the Celtics. So maybe Danny does know what he's doing. He's certainly been doing the job longer than any of us. And he sure as hell made things a lot more interesting around here.
So I hate that Perk is gone, but it's not as bad as it seems. And we're still not done. So let's see what else Trader Danny's got up his sleeve.