Perkins Trade Creates Sharp Divide

The media reaction to the trade of Kendrick Perkins, like the fan reaction, is decidedly mixed. Some say this was a great move, others say it was a terrible, risky move.

As always, Ainge unafraid to take his shot – Bob Ryan is a big fan of Jeff Green.

The Death of Ubuntu – Rich Levine says that without Perkins, the Celtics will never be the same.

On the contrary, Celtics did well – Peter May says that the Celtics got the better end of this deal.

Perkins deal a puzzler – Tim Weisberg says that this deal could end up being one of Danny Ainge’s biggest blunders.

Danny Ainge’s bold move aimed at future and present – Paul Flannery says that this move was made with the goal of improving the team both now and in the future.

Whole lot of Celtics soul gone – Mark Murphy says that the Celtics are more of a common team now.

Contract issue at the center of the deal – Gary Washburn notes that the Celtics decision was in large part, but now wholly, due to Perkins’ contract situation.

Marquis Daniels eyes all options – Murphy’s notebook has the former Celtic focused on his recovery. Jessica Camerato talks to the waived Leon Powe, who would welcome a return to Boston.

Evolution of a pitcher: Lester’s revived changeup completed his arsenal – Brian MacPherson has the third part of his series on Jon Lester.

No minor development – Mike Fine has the Red Sox still working diligently with their minor leaguers, even if there isn’t room on the roster for them at present.

Bruins couldn’t afford to take a pass on puck-moving Kaberle – Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins knew they couldn’t let a chance at acquiring the puck-moving defenseman go by this time.

Logan Mankins’ agent points at Patriots – Ian R. Rapoport and Karen Guregian have Frank Bauer sounding off again.

It’s a good time to play catch-up – Chad Finn has an assortment of media news and observations.

Sox Guy’ beaming again in Florida – Bill Doyle has a Worcester institution returning the airwaves.

Boston’s Shakeup On Sports Talk Radio Continues – My SB Nation Boston media column looks at some of the happenings this week.

Why Danny Ainge Made The Right Move

As 3:00 this afternoon approached, the biggest concern I had was that Danny Ainge might actually give up something worth a damn for Anthony Parker. Convinced that nothing was going to happen, I stepped away from my desk for a few moments only to return and look at my Twitter feed and see:

Genius me, I sensed immediately that something big had just gone down involving the Celtics. Something a little bigger than Anthony Parker. When things sorted out and the details came out – Kendrick Perkins had been traded along with Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic (and later, a first round pick) – all hell broke loose.

Celtics fans and bloggers immediately came down hard on the deal. Most questioning the sanity or intoxication level of Ainge (a Mormon, lest we forget). Many looked something like this:

That’s a polite one.

Then, as news came out that Semih Erden and Luke Harangody had been dumped to Cleveland for a second round pick, it began all over again.

Most fans were and still are out of their minds over these deals, saying that Ainge has given up on the season and thrown away the team’s hopes for a title. They’re pissed.

Let’s try and look at this a little more coolly, shall we? Let’s try to detach from the emotional attachment so many fans have for Perkins for a moment. Here’s why not only was this not a disastrous trade, but in fact it was a great move by Ainge.

Kendrick Perkins Isn’t Bill Russell.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of Perk and what he brings to the team. Ever since he showed up here as a doughy teenager way back in 2003, I’ve enjoyed watching him work and develop himself into a top-notch body-on-body low post defender. He has come so far you cannot  help but admire him. His teammates love him. His coaches love him. But…

There are number of circumstances which make moving him today the right move.

1) The Celtics weren’t going to be able to re-sign him at the end of the season. Perkins had reportedly recently turned down a contract extension offer from the Celtics. The deal was said to be close to or at the maximum that the Celtics could offer Perkins under the current rules. They were going to lose him at the end of the season, plain and simple. If they wanted any return on their investment, they needed to move him. Now. By sending him to Oklahoma City, they send him to a franchise in the Western conference that really wants and needs him, and will do all they can to re-sign him, hopefully keeping him away from the likes of the Miami Heat.

2) His game, while valuable, was extremely limited. There is a reason why Glen Davis has been closing out games with the starters this season, even after Perkins returned from his injury. Davis brings the physical presence on defense, despite his lack of height that Perkins does, while at the same time giving the Celtics someone who is not only not a liability on the offensive end, but someone who brings something to that end of the floor. Perkins is outstanding as that low post defender and is a good shot blocker, but that’s about it. He’s got hands of stone, his offensive game seems to have even regressed a bit, he can’t shoot foul shots, and he’s not a great rebounder. Are you going to hand out a huge contract to a guy you can’t even keep on the floor in the final minutes?

Both Perkins and Davis would be free agents. The Celtics couldn’t sign both. They probably hope to re-sign Davis, and this gives them a better chance to do that.

3) The Celtics did pretty well in the first half of this season without him. Perkins missed most of the first half of the season while recovering from the knee injury suffered in game six of the NBA Finals. The Celtics didn’t miss a beat. Granted they had Shaquille O’Neal for much of that time, and don’t have him at the moment, but they expect him to return, and also expect the “other” O’Neal to return, though if they get anything from him it will be considered a bonus.

So it became clear that if the team wanted to get something for Perkins, now was the time. This isn’t Bill Russell the Celtics just traded. They still have Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Glen Davis and Delonte West. In among all these moves they also hung onto first-round pick Avery Bradley, whom they like a lot.  Now let’s look at what they got in return for Perkins (and Nate Robinson.)

Forward Jeff Green. The 24-year old, 6-9 Georgetown product is a versatile, intelligent player, who has averaged 15 points a game during his career.  According to observers, he’s either a pretty good defender, or an awful one. He’s not the fastest player, but he’s very active. He gives you a guy who can play both forward positions, and depending on matchups, could play against someone like LeBron James in a Heat series, or Lamar Odom in a Lakers series. He is a restricted free agent after the season, but he is someone the Celtics can look to hold on to and become a cornerstone in the post-Big Three era. Ainge and Doc Rivers reportedly both loved his game coming out of school.

Center Nenad Krstic. As a center, Krstic is the anti-Perkins. He’s soft, not much of a defender or rebounder, but can shoot and score. At seven-feet, he’s at least a big, skilled body, he averaged 16 points a game back in 2007. He can foul – which might be needed against a Dwight Howard, or also stretch the floor a little bit with his shot.

A lottery protected first round pick from the Los Angeles Clippers. This could be another big building piece for the future, either with the actual pick (It is top-10 protected for the next few years) or as a trade piece.

Concerns people have.

There’s been a ton of angst out there among Celtics fans over losing Perkins. They worry that all of a sudden the Celtics can’t match up with Orlando, Miami or the Lakers. They say Perkins could lock down Dwight Howard single-handedly.

That hasn’t been the case all of the time, and especially of late. It’s become an absolute to some people that had Perkins not been injured in game six of the finals that the Celtics would’ve won the series. Without Perkins, Andrew Bynum still had only two points in both game six and seven, and wasn’t a huge factor. As for the Heat, they have no center. I’m not sure how not having Perkins has anything at all to do with how they play the Heat.

If the Celtics get Shaq back in time for the playoffs, and possibly Jermaine O’Neal, the Celtics will have more than enough big bodies to get through the postseason, where remember, there are no back-to-back games, and less travel.

The other moves.

In dumping Semih Erden and Luke Harangody, (and later, Marquis Daniels) the Celtics free up roster spots for potential buyout players. Semih had his moments this season, but you’ve got to think that any veteran that the Celtics can sign (Troy Murphy, for one) is going to be an improvement over those two. There have been a lot of possibilities floated out there as potential buyout candidates, and the Celtics are in a position to sign one as soon as they become available. (It’s worth noting that to make room for Erden and Harangody, the Cavs waived former Celtic Leon Powe, who I could love see back here.)

Ainge said this afternoon that the team would be aggressive in pursuing bought out players, looking for another wing player, a defender or front court help. There should be players available, and they’re bound to be better than Erden and Harangody. He also said they’re expecting Shaq back in a week.

Conclusion

So what Ainge has done today is give the Celtics a better chance of winning, both now and in the future. None of us like to think about it, but this team has a very short window. It’s this season, and perhaps next, and that’s probably it. By adding Green (the best player in the deal, who will contribute now) and the future first round pick from the Clippers, while also keeping Bradley, the Celtics have some assets and possibilities for the future.

Celtics Look To Add Final Piece

With the Bruins making a flury of trades last week, will the Celtics follow suit today? It seems unlikely, given what the Celtics have to offer, but Danny Ainge has surprised us before.

At deadline, Celtics in a bind – Chris Forsberg says that the Celtics may be forced to sacrifice the future in order to improve this team. Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics do not want to go that route, and any addition to the roster may come in the form of a player signed after a buyout. Gary Washburn says that the Celtics just don’t have the assets to give another team what they want. A. Sherrod Blakely has Ainge saying he will not do a deal out of panic.

Point taken by Garnett – The Globe notebook by  Julian Benbow has Kevin Garnett looking to be more aggressive on offense. The Herald notebook from Steve Bulpett has Kendrick Perkins out for a week with a strained MCL.  

Evolution of a pitcher: Over time, Lester adds cutter to arsenal – Brian MacPherson has the second part of his three-part series on Sox lefty Jon Lester.

Major obstacle – Nick Cafardo has a piece on Lars Anderson, whom the Red Sox are still high on despite adding Adrian Gonzalez to first base.

Early days of Curt Young era – Scott Lauber has the Red Sox new pitching coach getting to know his staff.

McDonald adopts ‘beast mode’ routine for 2011 – Maureen Mullen has Darnell McDonald looking to improve on his breakthrough season of 2010.

Marco Scutaro prognosis: good – Lauber’s Red Sox notebook has the shortstop feeling at full strength. The Red Sox Journal from Brian MacPherson has Rich Hill looking to secure a spot in the bullpen. The Globe notebook from Nick Cafardo has Terry Francona not ready to name his opening day starter.

A head-scratcher for NHL – John Powers has a feature on the NHL facing the problem of concussions that come from legal hits.

Quite a character, Hnidy brought in for tryout – The Bruins notebook from Fluto Shinzawa has the club bringing back a former defenseman for a look. Steve Conroy has more on the tryout for Hnidy. The CSNNE notes from Joe Haggerty have Steve Kampfer on the outside looking in at the moment in terms of playing time.

Patriots’ view of the NFL combine – Mike Reiss takes a New England-centric look at the combine.

Kevin Faulk feels labor pains – Ian Rapoport talks to the Patriots running back about his rehab will be impacted by a lockout.

Could Colon wind up on Patriots’ radar? – Tom E Curran wonders if Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon could be of interest to the Patriots.