Friday, February 25, 2011


I love Kendrick Perkins. But I love him within the context of Kevin Garnett plus another reasonably talented big man. Even before the trade, all the talk about building a new Celtics team around Rondo and Perk struck me as chancey. Big men who have been hurt nearly always continue to be hurt - Celtics fans may remember Al Jefferson, who I still love and root for to do well wherever he goes (Utah at present). And Perkins is not a top player like a Howard or Boozer, but a player used to neutralise their strengths so that teammates can exploit other advantages.

If O'Neal is not healthy throughout the playoffs, then this is a bad trade. The championship window for the Celtics is narrowing quickly - perhaps this is the last year. If they do not win, the idea that Perkins could have put us over the top will become commonplace. So this is a risky trade in that sense.

But in a rather Heisenberg application, the trade itself reveals why it was a reasonable trade. I thought that Perkins as a major piece going forward was suspect. With this trade, Danny Ainge reveals that he thought it was worse than suspect - that it is not worth doing. Once you have absorbed that the Celtics were not going to move up much from the $5.5 million/year that Perkins rejected - were never going to move into the range of the $9M/year he wants, and may get from someone else, then Kendrick Perkins is just as much a rental property as Jeff Green is.

Here's the other part. Paul Pierce really needs - really, really needs, someone else who can play defense against LeBron James. I don't know if Carmelo is in the Celtics playoff mix, but him too. Jeff Green is that guy. I was as worried about Pierce and Allen having any gas deep in the playoffs as I am Shaq.

The other pieces are intriguing, especially the later draft pick. Kristic's best games this year have been against Chicago and Orlando, though those are one game samples. He reportedly plays Tim Duncan well. Those may make for some nice moments, but you can't hang much on them.

Sports is also about mythology, as I often note, and Perkins leaving is a downer in how the team feels. But for winning, both short term and long, this is a slight upgrade.

1 comment:

Ben Wyman said...

The more I think about it, the more I see that Ainge decided that the real danger to the Celtics' chances was not Orlando or Los Angeles, but San Antonio and Miami, and so he rebuilt the team to match up against those two.

I have come to terms with the trade, to a certain extent - I recognize we needed a backup for Pierce, we needed the ability to go small, that we can probably patch the hole at center better than we can fake having no depth on the wing, etc.

I feel the same way about losing Perk as you. I really liked Perkins - he was a warrior, he was tough, he was loyal, and he worked incredibly hard to come back from the knee injury. He was a Celtic for 8 years, and losing him felt like losing a real part of the team. Sometimes we're rooting for laundry and sometimes we're not. I'll still be rooting hard for Perk at OKC.