OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder weren’t
content with just being top-tier playoff contenders, swapping starters in a
surprising deadline deal.
The Celtics sent center Kendrick Perkins(notes) to Oklahoma City and acquired
forward Jeff Green(notes) and center Nenad Krstic(notes) on Thursday, causing a shuffle in the
frontcourt for the Thunder.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else was,” said LeBron James(notes), whose
Miami Heat started the day tied with Boston for the best record in the Eastern
The Celtics also dealt reserve Nate Robinson(notes) to the Thunder and received a
future first-round draft pick, and cash, in the deal that was approved by the
NBA about five hours after the trade deadline.
Perkins recently returned from a knee injury he sustained in Game 6 of the
NBA finals. Once loaded with interior size, the Celtics will now have to hope
Shaquille O’Neal(notes) or Jermaine O’Neal(notes) get healthy in time for the playoffs.
“They’re always looking toward the future,” said Chicago Bulls coach Tom
Thibodeau, a Boston assistant until last season. “Perkins did a lot for that
team. He’s a very valuable player, he’s a great defensive player, and they got
good players back for him. So I think it was a good trade for both teams.”
The Thunder parted with Green, their third-leading scorer who frequently
played out of position at the power forward spot, and the 7-foot Krstic for the
chance to get the key interior defender they had been lacking. Perkins was a
vital part of the Celtics’ back-to-back trips to the NBA finals, including the
championship two seasons ago.
Perkins could team with second-year pro Serge Ibaka(notes) in a revamped starting
frontcourt to go along with high-scoring All-Stars Kevin Durant(notes) and Russell
Westbrook(notes). Oklahoma City sits fourth in the West.
The versatile Green can be a backup at multiple positions and fill the void
Boston created by trading away injured swingman Marquis Daniels(notes) to Sacramento.
Green’s production dropped off after he missed seven games early this season
with a sprained left ankle, but he was starting to break out of it recently. He
had been averaging just 13.7 points over a 29-game span, but surpassed 20 points
in four of his last 10 games leading up to the trade deadline.
“That’s ironic that now we’re a team of continuity and consistency,” said
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, as Miami was the only one of the top six East teams
without some tinkering around the trade deadline.
The inclusion of Krstic, the Thunder’s starting center since they brought
him back to the NBA from Russia in December 2008, should help offset Boston’s
loss of Perkins. Krstic had been out of the league after suffering a knee injury
with New Jersey.
“He’s really appreciative of the opportunity Oklahoma City gave him. They
really gave him a second chance coming out of Russia into the NBA,” Krstic’s
agent, Marc Cornstein, said. “He’s excited about going to Boston and to
hopefully bring them a title.”
Oklahoma City also added frontcourt depth by acquiring backup center Nazr
Mohammed(notes) from Charlotte in exchange for seldom-used forward D.J. White(notes) and
veteran guard Morris Peterson(notes), who had played in only four games this season.
“Tough day for me and my teammates … good luck to jeff green, nenad
krstic, (Peterson) and Dj white,” Durant posted on his Twitter account. “we
will miss u guys 4 sure.”
The Thunder had been looking for an upgrade to their interior defense and
Perkins, 26, could provide it while fitting in with a youthful roster. His
contract expires at the end of the season, but Oklahoma City faced the prospect
of losing Green and Krstic then anyway.
Green will be a restricted free agent and didn’t agree to an extension last
summer, when Durant signed a long-term deal. Westbrook’s contract also comes up
this summer, leaving Oklahoma City with some difficult financial decisions to
Green had been a part of Oklahoma City’s core, coming over in a 2007 draft
day trade that sent Ray Allen(notes) to Boston and set the stage for the Celtics’
championship run. The Thunder, then in Seattle, also picked Durant at No. 2 the
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman contributed to this report from Chicago.