Well, we've had quite an interesting past 24 hours, yes? Just my luck; I'm away from my computer for one day and that happens to be the day that pops the most Thunder buzz all season. Let's try to catch up.
Bringing Kendrick Perkins into the fray changes everything, because now the Thunder have an answer for Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol.
Phil Jackson and the Lakers are acutely aware of what the Thunder are trying to do. Jackson notes that the loss of Perkins was the big reason why the Lakers were able to beat the Celtics in last year's finals, and now Perkins might be looming in the second round. If the Thunder can neutralize Pau Gasol and keep Kobe in check...well, that's a formula for winning a playoff series.
It seems that the real reason why Celtics GM Danny Ainge parted ways with Perkins lies in a contract impasse. Ainge wanted to lock him up for a little more than $5 million per year, and Perkins wanted double that amount. Honestly, I understand that tension, but here is what I don't understand - how can you give up on a contract stalemate when there is a strong likelihood that next year all the rules will have changed?
OKC gets an A for obtaining a defensive presence in the paint. The Celtics get a C- for messing up what should have been one of their final strong championship runs.
This is an interesting look at the difference between the business of being a Celtic or a Thunder. The Celtics were trying to maintain their playoff caliber edge, but ran out of money and time. The Thunder had time and money. Presti showed some pretty amazing discipline to wait for this kind of moment, and he was able to do it because of the team's philosophy and because he knew the moments would come.
More links after the jump.
I imagine that the Celtics' locker room was similar to the Thunder's when the trade was announced. Both Jeff Green and Perkins were popular teammates and integral pieces to each team's progression toward the trophy.
Consider the maximum upside - Perkins stays healthy an signs a reasonable contract with the Thunder. This would give the Thunder a starting five rotation that is all under age 26, with money left over to keep Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka happy. Honestly, if Perkins stays upright the Thunder may have just built the sequel to the San Antonio Spurs.
Lowe gives a pretty honest assessment of Green's contributions over the past few years. The question for the Celtics is whether he can fill the role that Marquis Daniels occupied before his spinal injury.
On paper, it looks like the Thunder lost two starters. However, both Green and Nenad Krstic will be coming off the bench on the championship contending Celtics. In other words, Dwyer thinks they were both weak links in the Thunder's playoff aspirations. I think he's probably right. It isn't that Green and Krstic are useless, but their usefulness as starters was thin.
Here is an argument that the Thunder did not acquire anyone as talented as Jeff Green in the trade. I would probably agree that none of the incoming players has his skillset, but it's also important to note that he did not possess the skillset that Perkins does have, and that is the skillset that the Thunder actually need.
Dwyer thinks that Ainge might have something up his sleeve. With the Bulls playing better and better with a front court that features Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng, I sure hope so.
Abbott was shocked as well; the Thunder got what they needed. I have to disagree with Kevin Arnovitz though; Serge Ibaka is more than capable of hitting the open 15 footer.