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)