[Image of Kendrick Perkins, looking as bewildered as I am, from
where there's a really fine analysis of what I'm writing about.]
If you find today's post boring, blame Danny Ainge.
In deference to the majority of you, who don't give an owl's hoot about basketball, I haven't written much about the Boston Celtics this year. Even though I've lived and died with them forever, I've resisted the urge to go in-depth concerning anything green-related. And I was all set to give you the funny today, but Danny went and made a bunch of trades that, as it now stands, don't make sense to me at all.
Here's who the Celtics gave up: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Semih Erden, Luke Harangody, and Marquise Daniels.
Here's what they got in return: Jeff Green, Nadad Krstic, 3 future draft choices, and some money.
Here's where I tell you why these trades suck. Even the most ardent of my apologists will probably be bored, so I won't love you any less if you leave. Come back on Monday. I guarantee it won't be about sports, and I think you'll have a laugh or two.
Kendrick Perkins was the Celtics starting center. During his tenure in Boston, the Celtics never lost a playoff series when their usual starting five were healthy. It is generally believed, by almost everybody in Boston - except, apparently, Danny Ainge - that if Perkins had not hurt his knee in Game Six of the championships last year, versus the Lakers, then the Celtics would have won that series. His presence, as a rebounder and a defender, has been crucial to their success.
After hurting his knee in that game - exploding it, basically - his return was estimated as sometime in February of this year. He worked his ass off and came back about three weeks earlier than expected. And that's the kind of team guy he has always been, and will continue to be now for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The fans in Boston understood his commitment, desire, heart, and guts. The first time he entered a game this season, he received as loud and long a standing ovation as a Larry Bird might have gotten. And he deserved it.
Aside from that sort of perseverance, he made an immediate impact. Any basketball fan with eyes saw that the C's were a better team with him than without him. His defensive skills, and most especially his rotating to where he is needed for help, are apparent to anyone with even minimal knowledge. And a team, such as the Celtics, who had been struggling for rebounding all year, were provided with a presence on the boards that was immeasurable.
Now, without him, they are left with an aging and unreliable Shaquille O'Neal as their starter, with Jermaine O'Neal (currently injured, and possibly never returning) as back-up. This glaring lack was exacerbated when Trader Ainge pretty much gave away Semih Erden, the only other Center on the roster.
(Last night, against Denver, the team had not a single NBA-level center to play for them. Glen Davis, a fine power forward but too small to play in the middle for more than a few minutes, was the starter. They called up a D League player, Chris Johnson, a total of TWO major league games on his resume, to fill up the bench. He played decently, and credit to him for that on short notice, but he's certainly not the answer. So, for the short term, we saw what might be the dilemma going forward and into the playoffs, if Shaq retains his penchant for being disabled and the other O'Neal doesn't return from the injured list - a basketball team with no center. Brilliant stuff, Danny. If that's what happens, and this team wins a championship, I'll kiss your ass in Macy's window at high noon.)
OK, the C's should not have let go of Perk. I firmly believe that, but I'm willing to see why it might have been done and the good that could occur. His contract was up at the end of the season, and they were supposedly far apart on talks concerning a renewal contract, so they wanted something in return for his expected departure. They packaged him with Nate Robinson - MY WIFE's favorite player (and is she ever pissed about this...) and a good guy, but expendable - and in return they get a fine forward in Jeff Green and your standard European center (very tall, but prefers shooting jump shots as opposed to banging inside) in Krstic. They also receive a future first-round draft choice. Not a horrible exchange, IF WE HAD ANOTHER HEALTHY CENTER REMAINING. Which we don't.
In the most inexplicable part of the day's activities, Ainge traded C Semih Erden and F Luke Harangody to Cleveland for... well, for something, but I sure can't figure it out. They get Cleveland's second round draft choice in 2012.
Squeeze me? Are you cereal? You give up the healthiest center remaining on the roster after Perkins' departure, a guy who has given you some decent minutes and shown that he will have, if not a starring career, a decent life as a role player, at the least, and you also ship out of town a rookie forward with some skills, and you get, in return, a draft choice two years down the road, and a second-round draft choice at that.
I am befuddled, flabbergasted, mystified, and please feel free to consider my mind boggled. But, wait, it gets better! Marquise Daniels was traded to Sacramento for (be still my beating heart!) a second-round pick in...
(No, this has to be a joke. Somebody's yanking my chain.)
... in 2017.
2017! That means this future Celtic might just now be entering middle school. I know you want to build for the future, Danny, but trading Marquise for a pre-adolescent is just slightly odd.
(I joke, and - as Homer Simpson is fond of saying - it's funny because it's true, but I actually understand the reasoning on this one. Marquise is seriously injured, may never play again, and his contract is actually up soon, so if he comes back and makes the roster next year, the C's will have received a future draft choice for nothing.)
All of the above is as it now stands. The thinking among some is that Ainge has cleared room on the roster, and given himself monetary breathing room, in order to make another addition, soon, of a decent player, perhaps Troy Murphy or Rip Hamilton. The team may be better set for the future than it was before. However, whereas before I considered the Celtics favorites to win the championship this year, I now have little doubt they've killed that opportunity. I can only hope that my usual track record concerning predictions - lousy - holds, and I have the opportunity to kiss Danny Ainge's ass come summer.
Godspeed, Perk. You're a beast and you'll remain one. I wish you had remained a Celtic.
Soon, with more better stuff.