Danny Ainge is such a contrarian.
Last year, when fans and media were calling for him to blow up his injured, underachieving roster, he did nothing.
This year, with fans and media expecting only minor tweaks to a team commonly thought the best in the league, Ainge made major roster moves, completing three trades ahead of today’s trade deadline.
In the shocking first move, Ainge shipped Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and a top-10 protected 2012 first rounder (by way of the Clippers).
In the second, Ainge traded Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second round pick in 2013.
In the third, Boston sent the injured Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for cash.
Here’s some immediate reaction to the bloodletting, which is as much about the future as the present:
- The core remains intact. As much as Perk’s departure has shocked Celtics fans, the top-four players on this roster are unchanged. They alone keep Boston in the upper echelon of the league. The questions now are about how the new supporting cast will support the big four. Who fills spots #5-8 in the playoff rotation and how well?
- Ainge is not done. The Celtics have three open roster spots with the departures of Daniels, Erden and Harangody. It’s widely expected that Troy Murphy will join the Celtics after a buyout and there’s still room to add two other players in his wake (one likely being a wing).
- Ainge will now be judged (possibly harshly) on title-or-bust terms. If they don’t win it all, it’ll be easy to point back at the Perk trade.
- This is going to be hard on team chemistry. Perk was a key member of this tightly knit team, and close to Rajon Rondo in particular. Doc Rivers suddenly has coach-of-the-year potential if he can put all these pieces together over the next seven weeks. It’s not going to be easy.
- Rivers will have to stop using his line about how his starting five has never been beaten in a playoff series. That’s a thing of the past. Of course, his new starting five has never been beaten in a playoff series either. Just sayin’.
- Ainge apparently had limited confidence in his ability to afford to re-sign Perkins this summer. Perk turned down a contract extension earlier this season, and Ainge may have been swayed by that fact, along with concerns about Perk’s long-term health. Which makes you wonder if it was limited confidence he could re-sign him, or limited desire to do so.
- Of course, the allegedly-deep bench has been a problem all year and the potential exists for Green to improve that group, along with making the C’s younger in the top half of their rotation. Plus, Perk has always been a turnover machine, a bad free-throw shooter and a limited offensive player. We saw the benefits to the offense with the insertion of Shaquille O’Neal in the starting rotation. Boston will need to get more from Shaq than we originally thought back in training camp.
- Big Man Health is a huge go-forward story. This can’t be overstated. The Celtics may have just punted one of their biggest advantages over the rest of the league, including Miami and Orlando. In fact, with Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal perpetual health risks, they may be no more than average at this point.
- Ainge has added picks for the 2012/13 drafts. With a more restrictive CBA in place by that point, having low-cost options may be important for a team with so many large contracts. And we all know how well Ainge has done in the draft.
- More on Green later but here are some quick shots:
- He’s a 6’9” combo forward that has been used in a variety of capacities in OKC. Perhaps as a result, his PER checks in at a below-league-average 12.97, which is more than a bit worrying.
- He doesn’t turn the ball over much.
- He rebounds at essentially the same rate as Paul Pierce.
- He appears to be best when guarding SFs.
- Green takes the majority of his shots in two places: the rim and the three-point arc. So far this year, Green’s shooting 33.8% from the three-point arc and 74% at the rim.
- It’s unclear how his previous performance will translate to Boston because of his new teammates and because it certainly looks like he’ll mainly play the three. However, Boston can definitely go small with KG in the middle and Green at the four.
- Green will be a restricted free-agent this summer.
Much more to come over the next few days…