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Did The Boston Celtics Kill Their Championship Chances When They Traded Kendrick Perkins?

Submitted by on April 5, 2011 – 2:46 pmOne Comment
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The Celtics were sitting pretty back in February when they decided to make a move that was, at best, risky and, at worst, one of the worst trades in recent NBA history. They had the best record in the Eastern Conference at the time and, despite an aging roster and a host of guys who could go down at any time with an injury, they looked perfectly poised to make another run to the NBA Finals to contend for a championship. And then, it happened…

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge got greedy. He went for the home run when all the team really needed was a sacrifice bunt, and he mortgaged the future of the franchise for an opportunity to win right away. He decided to trade a hobbled Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

The trade didn’t look awful on paper. After suffering a knee injury during the NBA Finals last June, Perkins hadn’t assumed a role in the Celtics’ lineup this season and they were still dominating most games and winning handily against top-notch opponents. So the thought was that bringing Green and Krstic would help make them even better in the short-term and provide them with some fresh legs for the playoff push that they were planning on making this spring.

But all hasn’t gone according to plan. While Perkins returned recently to the Thunder lineup and has had some growing pains of his own on a young Thunder team, the Celtics have taken a step back since making the deal. The young upstart Chicago Bulls have assumed sole possession of the top slot in the East and the Miami Heat have inched their way up the standings to challenge Boston for the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. And to make matters worse, it’s all happened as the Celtics have tried to find someone to be a force in the paint—with Krstic suffering several injuries, Shaquille O’Neal‘s aging frame giving him problems over the course of the last two months, and Jermaine O’Neal being a less-than-ideal option at this point in his career.

And all of that leads us to conclude this: The Celtics trading Perkins away has to be one of the most bone-headed moves made by an NBA general manager in the last decade. While we give Ainge credit for putting together the team’s current roster, there’s a good chance that the Perkins trade will be the sole reason the Celtics can’t match up against the East’s better teams once the playoffs start. With Perkins, the Celtics would have almost been a shoe-in to make the Eastern Conference Finals again. Without him, we could see Boston struggling in the first round and knocked out in the second. Not exactly what Celtic fans want to see after the magical run the team made last year.

Maybe we’re wrong and O’Neal—either one of them!—will catch lightning in a bottle for a few weeks once the playoffs start and give the Celtics a boost at the center position. Or maybe Krstic will pan out after all and give the Celtics the type of production they’ve been looking for out of him. Or maybe Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett will be so motivated to make another run this year that they’ll do the majority of the heavy lifting.

But we doubt it. What we’re looking at right now is a team that’s fighting to stay afloat as we make our way towards the NBA Playoffs. And it’s all because they got a little bit too greedy at the trade deadline. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And that’s exactly what Ainge tried to do. Too bad for Boston.

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