I wrote this yesterday, at my desk in the Dime Magazine office as it took me a fair amount of time to get my thoughts together.

For years I approached the trade deadline like a basketball holiday where surprise deals would loom, blockbusters would occur out of championship desperation and ultimately most deals would fall apart at the final hour but yesterday and the 48 hours prior were different. With the star power movement and the magnifying glass on the teams involved in the deals that occurred I expected the Boston Celtics who sit atop the eastern conference despite an injury riddled bench that is vital to their run at Banner 18 to add a small piece as in an Anthony Parker or Shane Battier to play behind both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Never did I see this coming.

I have respected and believed in Danny Ainge since the moment he took over in the spring of 2003 following a 2nd round thrashing by the NJ Nets where their team was exposed as one that as currently assembled would not have a shot at a championship. Despite harsh blow back from fans and the high and mighty Boston media Ainge brought in Doc Rivers and blew up the roster. No need to again retrace what occurred after that as we have all lived through it and despite some dark days before the summer of 2007 I always believed in Danny Ainge, because like Kendrick Perkins, Danny has always been, a Celtic.

So we have two sides to this deal yesterday, and if you choose to look deeper afterwards, two sides to each side. Kendrick Perkins was without a doubt the very valuable side-kick that Kevin Garnett worked so well with on the defensive side of the court that provided toughness, terrific post defense and the swagger that is so recognizable with the Celtics. He was a valued teammate and a guy that grew from a raw high school prodigy from Texas to a trusted member of one of the best teams in the post Jordan NBA era. We have all played the, what if game regarding Perkins and Game 7 of the NBA finals last season. What if he did not injury his knee in game 6? Would we have won game 7? Would Perk have been the difference? Unfortunately the team, all of the fans and worst of all Kendrick Perkins will never know that answer.

His motivation to rehab and come back a better player was clear from day one of training camp. The Celtics did what they had to do by adding the O’Neal’s who besides one tremendous stretch from Shaq have been as reliable as the New York City snow removal process this winter. Then, before anyone could believe it, Kendrick Perkins was at the scorer’s table early in the first quarter at the garden earlier this month about to check himself into the game against the Cavs. WOW! Perk is back before the all-star game! Damn, I got up off the couch and cracked a beer as the crowd showed him much deserved love with a monster ovation.

PERK was back!!! No need to worry about Jermaine’s bad knee or Shaq taking his mid season siesta, we had our glue guy back upfront. The guy that completed that special lineup that together had not lost a postseason series. Perkins was the guy that could guard Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan without even making you think you had to double down on the post. He was also the guy that along with Garnett put everyone on blast; this is our paint, period. But as teams started to add different pieces and as the hole began to widen in terms of the Celtics needing to add a versatile perimeter player to assist Paul Pierce and Ray Allen on both ends, specifically in potentially dealing with both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony this post season the talents and high ceiling of adding someone like Jeff Green to the Celtics became very appealing. There are two other factors here, first of which that Perkins is a free agent at the end of this season and will be asking for somewhere between $8-$10 million per year, as he turned down a modest offer from the Celtics during his rehab process which was in the range of 4 years and $22-$25 million. To have Perkins test the open market and either drive the price up or risk losing him started to become a very dangerous thought to Danny Ainge and the Celtics. Then again, wasn’t this season supposed to be about Banner 18 and only Banner 18?

Then we have the ceiling of Kendrick Perkins as a player. Yes, he rehabbed the hell out of his knee and got back ahead of schedule but how much better of a player can and will Kendrick Perkins become over the course of his career. To me Perkins will continue to develop himself as a respectable starting center that gets it done based on his toughness, smarts and ability to be a piece to a terrific Celtics puzzle.

Then look at Jeff Green. Green is a multi talented forward that can play both the 3 and 4, score with his back to the basket and from deep despite his decrease in three-point percentage this season from last. He was in the closing lineup for the Thunder in every big game they have played between this season and last, and by all accounts is a team guy that at 24 years old doesn’t yet have a ceiling.

For a moment lets pretend there is no lock out next season and things resolve themselves. The Celtics will still have Rondo, Allen, Pierce, KG, Shaq, Davis, West (he owes his NBA life to the Celtics, though not yet under contract) and Green coming back for the 2011-2012 season. Then in the summer of 2012 only Rondo and Pierce will remain on the payroll, though you can likely add Green to that as well. That puts the Celtics in position to make a run at someone like a Dwight Howard while offering KG and Allen one last deal each if they so chose to keep playing in an effort to raise more banners as Celtics.

The late 1980’s and early 1990’s Celtics were haunted by the death of Len Bias and Red Auerbach refusing to move any of the old big three in order to rebuild the team on the fly, and you know what, I agree with what Red did because not one of those players should have ever worn another uniform, though the Chief ultimately did as he chose to stay in the league a few too many years. Danny Ainge was the guy that was traded in 1989, to Sacramento for Ed Pinckney and Joe Kleine, two younger, role-playing frontcourt players that provided depth behind Bird, Parish and McHale. With the emergence of Reggie Lewis in the backcourt it was a deal that Red had to make, though it was a very difficult one at that.

Fast forward 22 years and Danny had to look down the gun barrel kind of like the bank robber in “Dirty Harry” laying on that San Francisco street with a bullet hole in his shoulder looking up at Detective Harry Callahan who just shot him. But in this case Danny is both characters. Did Danny fire six shots or only five? Did he lose track of himself in all this excitement? Or maybe he just felt lucky? Well, did you Danny?

The thought of making a run at Banner 18 and winning it without Kendrick Perkins is something I never thought I’d have to consider or even crazier, experience in the near future as a life long Celtics fan and basketball junkie that cares more about this team than any other team, ever, in my history as a sports fan. This team is a family on and off the court. To lose a key piece is not just something felt on the court under the bright lights but off of it as well which was evident by the comments made by Pierce, Allen and Garnett following last nights loss in Denver.

At the end of the day, looking at both the chance to get back to the finals and at the same time keep this magic Celtics victory ride going past the careers of Garnett, Allen and Pierce this could be a move that the Celtics and their fans thank Danny Ainge for making both this spring and for years to come. Today the Celtics fans are up in arms about this, as bloggers, writers and all the local and national talking heads for the most part are ripping the move. But for those that pay attention and understand what is happening on the floor between lines the Celtics definitely needed more versatility when looking at who they would be battling this post season in a quest for Banner 18. With the Orlando Magic fading and the Bulls and Heat both on the Celtics heels this deal may, just may, have saved the Celtics. Remember in 2008 when the Celtics ended almost every big win with KG, Pierce, Allen, Posey and either Rondo or House on the floor? The floor was spread, you couldn’t sag off of people or else the Celtics would slice you up. Well, now with Rondo being an All-World point guard instead of a stubborn second year protégé that everyone doubted he will have plenty of room to maneuver and plenty of wide-open teammates to get the ball to when the help defense arrives. Of course a return from Shaq would help as well as the addition of soon to be available Troy Murphy, but this move was about sacrificing one thing for another. I can applaud Danny for taking a risk, and in this case being the Dark Knight, as Celtics fans are portraying him as the villain. In order to get to Banner 18 Danny realizes he will have to be whatever Beantown and Celtics fans need him to be. Welcome to the Celtics Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic. Thank you Kendrick Perkins for the blood, sweat and tears as like Danny Ainge, you will always be a Celtic.

The Coach 2/26/2011 11:27:00 AM Edit
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14 Responses so far.

  1. great article, a real nice balanced look at things. i think everyone's shocked and sad to see Perk go for emotional reasons, which has kept them from looking at things in an emotionally unbiased way. i still think it was a good move, but we'll just have to wait and see.

  2. C's says:

    Love you Perk. Celtic for life. I was very happy to hear Kevin Durant talked to Perk about how hard it must be and he will do everything he can to make him feel at home. Thank you Durant. Love you Perk.

  3. jayms says:

    In the end (and the stats will hold up to this if someone puts them together) Perk wasn't great this season. He's not at 100%, and wont be until next year. He was 50/50 leaving this season, so now we have a guy who isn't much use to us this year (Dwight, Bynum, even B.Lopez WORKED him this year, look at their points totals compared to last yr) because he cant really D guys like he used to (and Dwight has now got a jumpshot that he isnt tall enough to contest, and he never had an offensive game. We saw a deal to get rid of him which IS tough, but we also got rid of Nate (SO needed to do this) and pick up a GREAT backup for Pierce in Green, it makes sense. If we get past the sentimentality it was a good deal. We just need a legit backup 5 now, probably along with Murphy, just so we have the depth there, and we're at a better position than when we started this year.

    We've lost more games, proportionally, from being thin at the 3 due to Quis's injury, than we have from not having Perk (we're actually better without him (33-10 compared to 8-4)), and with Perk not being 100% and other guys adding to their games to get around his brute strength, AND with a large possibility we wont have the money to sign him next year, he just proved to be expendable. It hurts to see him go, but from a purely basketball it isn't a nightmare trade and we could possibly emerge stronger because of this

    @JdotD on Twitter

  4. Foxxyceltic says:

    This article brought tears to my eyes!....Perkins will be truly missed suiting up in green!!
    #Celtics HOORA

  5. Big Z says:

    Geez, its a business...get over it. Perk will have millions of reasons why he's blessed to be in NBA when he gets paid next season. Perk was ok, he was never Robert Parish on the court...Even with perk guys like dwight Howard and bynum had some big games against him....I think people are more sad because he's been with Boston since 18...not because of his skill
    ...Celtic fans, we gotta wait and see what Danny has left in adding 2 or 3 more vets..and I hope one of them is troy Murphy....yeah his stock is way down and rightfully so, but just wait if he ends up in green...I'm sure those with reservations will be happy

  6. jim says:

    great article and i totally agree and would add one thing. danny did not do this in a vacuum, you can be sure it was discussed in great detail what his plan was with doc and the owner and i believe they signed off on it. i liked perk as much as anyone and am sad to see him go but he DID have a chance to sign the offer if he really wanted to stay a celtic, if that was the primary driver instead of money. he is of course entitled to whatever he can get, that is part of negotiation, but he gambled and lost and i have to think that danny took a good hard look at that refusal and decided that we may lose him anyway. i read miami, and many other teams were interested and the celtics could have very well been outbid, i am inclined to believe that this weighed heavily in da's decision, so don't blame danny entirely if you don't like it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    To some this trade might look good on paper but what the Celtics lost with their latest sell-out move, the Perkins trade, (don't even get me started with Marquis) is that elusive, intangible but oh-so-necessary chemistry that bound them together for their championship run. Have any of the Celtic's owners, the actual people responsible for this move, ever won a championship as a player? Did they forget about that part?

    Yesterday I asked an NBA championship player if it were possible to win a championship without that bond, and he said "No."

  8. Tim says:

    This deal was basically to get the best bench in the NBA. I love Perk and so did everyone on the Celtics and it hurts to see him go after these 8 years especially this year when he worked so hard to get back into shape after getting his knee destroyed. We are really counting on Shaq and JO to be able to contribute in the playoffs. Shaq has looked great when he has played with us were a much better offensive team with him in the lineup opposed to Perk. JO better be playing soon cause we truly need him but rest up for June. In the end this is a risky but smart move cause Green has been the young athlete that this team is missing hopefully he can contribute. Don't bother listenting to what all these ESPN "Experts" think because we still have our 4 best players all playing amazing this season and we will be playing with Shaq, JO and Kristic instead of Perk in the playoffs hopefully we won't play the Magic in the playoffs because Dwight is the best center in the NBA and is nearly unstoppable. Noah can't perform a post move and neither can Big Z or Joel so I doubt not having Perk will be that big of an issue. In the Finals theres 4 legit contenders OKC, SA, LA and Dallas. We have size and we woukd beat all those teams in a 7 game series IMO

  9. Anonymous says:

    What are the odds of Perkins coming back to the Celtics as a free agent?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bye Bye 18 thank you Danny Ainge. Wow!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. RoswellSounds says:

    Really thorough article, Coach. Maybe it´s an equation that no one can solve right now. We have to wait and see the events develope themselves (I feel kidnaped right now, and you?). I mean, who can predict anything in this crazy, shapeshifting timeline that we call reality? Maybe a guess, a long shot. Maybe...

    It´s hard to reason about the future, when all this time you were speaking in present tense. Kind of absurd, right? Since the beginning of the season it was clear that the discuss was being done with the HERE&NOW concept in mind. Not a great concept, but when you have a core of veterans in your team, and then you add more long-timers to support them, it´s clear that you PoW is aiming the short time scenario.

    Now, fast forward to 2/24. Fucking awful day for all of us, specially for Perks. A black day for sure. And you know what? I don´t give a fuck about the future. Next seasons? Couldn´t care less. Emotional? Maybe. But this group, this team, this family (like Gerald Allen said in his article) got dismembered in 24 hours. Butchered up. Torn apart. Jason Vorhees work, we could say. This is violence. This is how you feel when you can´t see your friends, your mates, your brothers in arms.

    How the hell are you gonna win a ring in this ultra-mega-super-archi-corrupted competitive league? Commitment, surrender to an idea, a project, ego-less individuals, the kind of "I´ll bleed and die for you" mentallity. Specially if you play in a team called BOSTON-fucking-CELTICS. Make no mistake, those ideas are real. The players that we see in the field, they have embraced thoughts like those. To make a stand, a final one. To make a point, among those suits that never shot a Bball in their lifes. A point, a stand, directed towards the so-called "supertars" that prefer to hit the night clubs, rather than the damn practice.

    The Celtics are not a regular NBA team. Say what you want, this institution, this GROUP is fucking different. Point. Shut the hell up. No questions allowed...

    Kendrick Perkins was an important piece of that group. Friends. Trust. How the fuck are you gonna win anything without those concepts? LIke LA last year? Paying the fucking refs in the last qt? Way to go! Congratu-fucking-lations for all of you damn rapists out there! Smile now, bitches. You "really deserve it". Roll curtain. Show´s over...

    Maybe I went a little out there with this comment. I don´t care. We lost an arm. Danny´s commitment is beyond doubt. Ainge BLEEDS GREEN, you understand? But don´t speak about the next twelve months. No one of us give a fuck about that (and YOU know that´s a fact!)

    You have your opinion, he has his, I have mine. And what? All I care, this group, these persons that were willing to die one for another... This group got butchered IN A FUCKING DAY-NIGHT. I feel like shit, this is not right. When your friend, mates, got traded without a reason, you have the right to feel like that.

    Pierce said: "This is a business". He was about to cry. KG felt like shit. Luke, Marquis, Semih... Why? What have the C´s accomplished with those utterly ridiculous trades? Nothing in the court. But I feel hurt. Really hurt. I liked those guys. They belonged here, they had something to give to us, the fans. And make no mistake, this game happens BECAUSE OF THE SPECTATORS, AND FOR THEM. If we weren´t out there, those athletes would be playing for the Harlem Globertrotters. Remember that...

    This isn´t right. This wasn´t suppposed to happen. But what the fuck, it did. I feel bad for KG and Rondo. For Pierce, Ray, Shaq, Doc and all of our guys out there.

    What will we see in the next month? Place your "bets", everybody. Fuck gambling!! But there are things that will never change. Our love is one. Our heart is another.

    We lost and bleed. Now it´s the time to rise and keep fighting. Fuck everyone that´s out there. We bleed, we heal. TOGHETER! BOSTON CELTICS, motherfuckers!!!!!!!

    1 - 2 - 3 UBUNTU!!!!!!!

  12. Z says:

    I could understand the trade if we had a healthy center ready to play in place of perk. So when it all went down I said "at least we have semih until shaq or JO get back...". Then u get rid of semih in order to open up a spot and give you some extra cap room for a future move. The problem is that we're in the middle of a season and there aren't many centers that could come to the bean and fill the shoes of either of those guys. It would've made sense to me if we scooped up Marcus camby but somebody beat us to the punch. So I hope there is another big that I'm not thinking of that is still available because if we don't make a move & shaq and JO don't come back soon then we're in trouble. Can't have shaq come back the last week of the season and expect the chemistry to be where it was a month or 2 ago. I know green will be a great fit/piece off the bench but the verdict is still out on kristic and his defense. And to wrap it up, everybody that says "trust Danny" is forgetting about all the bold face lies he told us when garnett was hurt 2 years ago and kept leading us to believe he was coming back at some point. Obviously he made the moves to bring the Big 3 together but he knew what he was getting when he traded for them, where as this year he just gives 3 players away and it doesn't seem like he knows who will be replacing them this season. Time will tell

  13. Hi
    I read your blog and found it very informative and helpful to me .Thanks for such an effort

  14. Anonymous says:

    A part of the deal I find interesting that is often overlooked was the 1st round draft pick given by OKC to the Celtics. It is a clippers draft pick and will probably be a lottery pick. That is a great pick-up for the Celtics for they will get to draft high, a commodity they don't have very often.

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