Rivers said the same thing last year when Perkins blew out his right knee in Game 6 of the finals and the Lakers prevailed in Game 7.
Now, the Celtics will try to win a championship without the familiar five. On Thursday, the Celtics’ director of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, traded Perkins and the reserve guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for 24-year-old Jeff Green, a 6-foot-9 forward, and the veteran center Nenad Krstic.
“They go down as never having lost a playoff series,” Phil Jackson, tongue in cheek, said Thursday.
The trade was the most significant deal engineered before Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports and confirmed by two executives briefed on the trade.
Many league executives took a cautious approach in the days leading to the deadline, with the uncertainty of the league’s expiring labor agreement and how trades could affect payrolls. Some teams sought financial flexibility while others tried to strengthen themselves for the playoffs.
The Houston Rockets were among the most active teams. They made a point guard switch — dealing Aaron Brooks for Phoenix’s Goran Dragic — and traded the defensive specialist Shane Battier to the Memphis Grizzlies for a former second overall pick, Hasheem Thabeet, and a first-round pick. Brooks will play behind the All-Star point guard Steve Nash.
The Clippers and the Cavaliers exchanged former All-Star point guards — Baron Davis and Mo Williams. The Clippers also received Jamario Moon in the deal and sent Cleveland what will most likely be a top selection in next year’s draft for taking on Davis’s salary.
In other moves, Portland acquired the former All-Star forward Gerald Wallace from the Charlotte Bobcats for Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham and two first-round picks.
The Celtics-Thunder deal could have the most impact on the playoffs. Perkins is a bullying center, an enforcer who started alongside four All-Stars. Now he will be asked to perform the same tasks alongside the young All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Many considered the absence of a quality center like Perkins a hindrance to the Thunder’s truly challenging the Lakers in the Western Conference.
Perkins has played in 12 games after extensive rehab and will be out at least another week after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
Boston is gambling its interior players will get healthy. Shaquille O’Neal has been out with a strained Achilles’ tendon and Jermaine O’Neal has been sidelined most of the season (knee).
Boston sought perimeter help in Green, a forward with inside-outside skills. He is averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds and will be a restricted free agent after the season
The Celtics also sent Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for a future conditional second-round pick, and dealt Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a future second-round pick.
Oklahoma City further solidified its frontcourt by adding Nazr Mohammed in a trade with the Charlotte Bobcats for D. J. White and Morris Peterson.
In a twist, Green played a side role in Boston’s re-emergence. The Celtics drafted him in 2007 and then traded him, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West to the Seattle SuperSonics, which became the Thunder, for Allen and Glen Davis.
BULLS EDGE HEAT Derrick Rose scored 26 points and Luol Deng hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer to lift the host Chicago Bulls past the Miami Heat, 93-89, in an Eastern Conference game that could have playoff seeding implications. The Bulls watched a 9-point lead in the fourth change into a 4-point deficit before winning. (AP)
KINGS MAY BE ON THE MOVE In the latest and perhaps strongest signal yet that the Sacramento Kings are considering a new home, the franchise filed a request for an extension on the N.B.A.’s March 1 deadline to inform the league if they intend to seek permission to relocate next season. (AP)
Odds makers spent the early part of Wednesday attempting to find the right betting odds for the New York Knicks to win the Eastern Conference and a possible NBA championship. Just as they were finishing up those odds, the Deron Williams trade broke.
Williams was moved to New Jersey from Utah in a move that changed the gambling odds for both teams. The bettors who had New Jersey winning more games than their win total will be overjoyed with the Nets addition of a player that some analysts believe is the best point guard in the NBA.
Wednesday night provided yet another challenge for sports books. Kirk Hinrich was traded to Atlanta, and Mike Bibby ended up in Washington. The Hinrich trade is expected to help the Hawks compete for the Eastern Conference crown. All of a sudden, a conference that was viewed just last week as the weaker of the two, has emerged with some of the best talent in the NBA.
The Heat and Celtics appeared to be locks to make the Eastern Conference finals this season, but the Anthony and Hinrich trade may make the road through the playoffs tougher on both Miami and Boston. The Knicks provide the most dangerous path, with both Anthony and Amare Stoudemire capable of taking over a series.
Late Wednesday night there were several rumored trades still floating around that could alter the betting odds even more by the morning. Gerald Wallace was rumored to be on his way to Portland, but the Bobcats have denied that they are trading their star player.
The team that may benefit the most from the Anthony and Williams trades is the Los Angeles Lakers. L.A. has struggled at times this season, and they faced the prospects of playing either Anthony’s Nuggets or Williams’ Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. Now, neither team looks to have enough weapons left to derail the two-time defending champs should they meet in the first round.
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The deal would end the season-long trade saga involving Denver’s All-Star forward and send him to his desired destination. If it goes through, it puts Anthony alongside Amare Stoudemire in a potentially explosive frontcourt — at a heavy cost to the Knicks.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Nuggets coach George Karl said, according to the newspaper. “I’m glad it’s an opportunity to reinvent. I think everybody handled it as classy as you could handle it. There’s some sadness to it, there always will be.”
Denver might not be Gallinari’s final destination. League sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher the Nuggets are not expected to keep Gallinari once their acquisition of him is completed.
While Broussard reported that the Nets might try to acquire Gallinari after striking out on Anthony, there are several other interested teams with first-round draft picks to offer in exchange for the perimeter-shooting forward. Other potential suitors include the Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.
The need for time to move Gallinari is why Denver pulled the trigger on the Anthony deal Monday night, rather than get closer to Thursday’s trade deadline to see what else develops, sources said. The Nuggets are not looking to deal Felton or Chandler, a league source said.
The Nuggets have explored an Anthony trade since he refused to sign the three-year contract extension worth nearly $65 million they offered him last summer. They appeared on the verge of sending him to the New Jersey Nets on multiple occasions, but the Knicks increased their offer enough to land Anthony, who was believed to prefer New York all along.
The Knicks would hope he could be in uniform Wednesday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks. If he is, he’ll probably be wearing a different number.
Anthony wore No. 15 for his seven-year tenure with the Nuggets. He also wore No. 15 during his one season at Syracuse. But that digit will be off limits for Anthony in New York because the organization retired No. 15 twice — once for Earl Monroe and once for Dick McGuire. A team official was unsure of which number Anthony would wear with the Knicks when contacted by ESPNNewYork.com late Monday night.
Anthony led the Nuggets to the playoffs in each of his first seven seasons in Denver after winning a national title at Syracuse as a freshman and had them positioned for another playoff run this year. But Denver advanced out of the first round just once in that time.
He stood to become the headliner of the 2011 free-agent class, but didn’t want to risk free agency knowing a new collective bargaining agreement could cost him millions. But once he refused the extension with the Nuggets — plus put his Denver mansion on the market last year — the Nuggets’ new front-office team of general manager Masai Ujiri and team president Josh Kroenke had to begin trade talks so they wouldn’t risk losing him and getting nothing in return as the Cavaliers did with LeBron James and the Toronto Raptors did with Chris Bosh last year.
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There were persistent rumors Anthony wouldn’t take the extension if traded to the Nets, which was a prerequisite for them agreeing to a trade. He instead gets his apparent wish to join a Knicks team that is in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and in position for its first playoff berth since 2004.
But the Knicks will make their postseason run without the core of the team. Felton, Gallinari, Mozgov and Chandler were four of New York’s top six players, and there is some thought the Knicks gave up too much to get Anthony, a sensational scorer headed to a team that doesn’t necessarily need more scoring.
However, the Knicks felt they couldn’t pass on the opportunity to land a 26-year-old superstar once he became available. Assuming he extends with the Knicks, Anthony and Stoudemire would be under contract for four more seasons, though the uncertain salary-cap situation could wreck New York’s plans to be spenders over the next two summers.
The Nets wanted Anthony, hoping the Brooklyn native would be the face of their franchise when they open their new Barclays Center in 2012. But though he never publicly confirmed the speculation that he wouldn’t have extended with the Nets, he did note Friday during the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles that the Knicks were further along after acquiring Stoudemire — his good friend — last summer.
Anthony met with both Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan over the weekend and hoped there would be a resolution before he returned to the Nuggets. That indeed happened — he was excused from practice Monday so he could remain in California to appear on Conan O’Brien’s show.
The Nuggets made out well, considering they could have lost Anthony for nothing in the summer. The Nets’ offer, centered around rookie Derrick Favors and draft picks, would have meant a rebuilding situation, while the players they acquire from New York could keep them in postseason contention in the Western Conference. The Nuggets host Memphis on Tuesday night.
Karl said he’ll miss Billups, a hometown favorite and consummate professional who helped Denver reach the Western Conference finals in 2009, when the Nuggets nearly eliminated the eventual champion Lakers.
“I think Chauncey will go down as one of the greatest winners,” Karl said. “His record of seven or eight conference finals is, I mean, that’s incredible. I think that’s who he is, that’s what he stands for. He brought one of them to us. Last year we had a miserable ending. I think there’s many people, including myself, that will be sad for Chauncey. I know he loves Denver and we love him, but things happen. There’s decisions that have to be made.
“I’m 100 percent behind the decision we made, even though it will be dangerous and there won’t be the veteran point guard back there,” Karl added. “Felton, I thought was having a great season this year. But I think Ty [Lawson] and Felton are going to have a great challenge to live up to what Chauncey has given us in past years.”
Asked who his starting point guard would be, Karl said, “Probably Ty,” then got into his maroon SUV and drove away.
Information from ESPNNewYork.com’s Mike Mazzeo and Ian Begley, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
LOS ANGELES –Not that Amar’e Stoudemire needed to convince Carmelo Anthony any further, but the Knicks’ power stud put on a show last night in the NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center, racking up 29 points with six rebounds and a block in 28 minutes.
No wonder Carmelo Anthony would rather play for the Knicks than the Nets. “He played great, man,” Anthony said after the West hung on for a 148-143 shootout win. “Amar’e played great. If the East had won, he would’ve had a chance to be the MVP.”
The East made a huge rally in the fourth quarter, cutting an 17-point deficit to two points. LeBron James led the fourth-quarter charge with Stoudemire, who donned new white-framed goggles as he became the first Knick to start an All-Star game since 1992.
James tied Stoudemire with 29 points. Stoudemire notched 14 in the fourth quarter when he made all six of his free throws. Kobe Bryant won the MVP as he amassed 37 points. “You could tell Kobe from the start wanted to get the MVP,” Stoudemire said. “He was not passing the ball.”
Anthony was waiting on the Nuggets to decide whether they would trade him to the Knicks or force him to the Nets. Anthony said he’ll be a Nugget for Tuesday’s game “unless I look at my phone and have an urgent call.”
Asked about what he thought of meeting Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov Saturday night in a Los Angeles restaurant, Anthony said, He’s cool, really cool.
“It was just some generic meeting the Nuggets allowed me to take but there was nothing specific,” Anthony said. A report suggested Anthony met with the Nets only so he could get permission to meet with Knicks officials.
Stoudemire shot 11 of 20, even hitting a 3-pointer late to slice the West’s lead to four. “We had fun, those guys scored about 300 points,” Stoudemire joked. “Defense was, (rather) the lack of defense.”
Asked about the Knicks-Nets competition for Anthony, Stoudemire said, “It’s probably good for the league basketball is coming back to New York or New Jersey. But the team we have, no, we are not too bad
“But you never know how things may end up here in the next few days.”
Stoudemire, who recorded a handful of power dunks, said, “My dunks aren’t as hard as they used to be. Blake [Griffin] is jumping over cars. My high-jumping days are over.”
Returning to the game he dominates after a one-year absence, Bryant added 14 rebounds in a spectacular performance in front of the usual celebrity-filled crowd that turns out to see his Lakers.
“It feels great, being at home here and playing in front of the home crowd,” Bryant said after receiving the MVP trophy. “This will be my last All-Star game in front of these home fans, so it feels good to do it.”
Kevin Durant chipped in 34 points, scoring five straight after the East cut a 17-point deficit after three quarters to two points with 2:34 to play.
LeBron James powered the East rally, finishing with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to join Michael Jordan as the only players with a triple-double in the All-Star game. Miami’s Dwyane Wade had to leave with an ankle injury after scoring 14.