Saturday, February 26, 2011

"F**k, dude. F**k."

"F**k, dude. F**k."

That was the first Skype message I received from Basketbawful upon us receiving the news that Kendrick Perkins had been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder. And I felt the same way. Bawful and I were both dumbstruck. We thought, like many did, that Perkins was an untouchable piece of the these-five-starters-when-healthy-have-never-lost-a-playoff-series Celtics.

God, this whole picture is so... Monday.

But then I thought about it, and saw this situation from other angles. And lucky I did, because I soon found myself on the phone with Bawful trying to talk him off the what-have-they-done ledge. Frankly, I think I did a pretty good job. For you Celtics fans, here's how you can sleep at night:

The Freak out: Dude, Perkins is gone. I feel like I'm going to throw up.

The talk down: Relax. Let's start with the basics: believe it or not, the Celtics organization has to exist beyond 2011, and it's Danny Ainge's job to prepare for that. The Celtics offered Kendrick Perkins the maximum possible extension at the beginning of the year, and Perkins rejected it. Ainge no doubt foresaw Perkins not being a Celtic next year. The likely result if you keep Perkins for a 2011 title run? He's gone in free agency, there is no money to replace him, and the Thunder - a likely candidate to take him - get him next year for nothing but the willingness and ability to pay him.

Thanks to the trade, the Celtics now have a talented, young, athletic 15 ppg player in Jeff Green, a replacement 7-footer who is admittedly a defensive downgrade but an offensive upgrade, and a 2012 first round pick.

Verdict: Traditional thought dictated there was no way this Celtics team could keep four all-stars around (Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, and Allen) and still make moves to build for the future, and they just found a way to do precisely that.

The Freak Out: Losing Marquis Daniels to a bruised spinal cord forced the Celtics into this mess! They needed a backup for the aging Pierce, so they had to make this stupid move!

The Talk Down: Agreed, the injury to Daniels forced the Celtics hand a bit, but Perkins not signing an extension made the decision to move him one whole hell of a lot easier. And hey, aside from "losin' a family member" (yada yada), Doc seems pleased with the trade. He expects the better shooting of Green and Krstic to help spread the floor, and make Rondo more effective on drives and ball distribution.

Also, the Celtics second-unit has always been a hodge-podge-let's-just-try-to-not-get-our-butts-kicked-while-the-starters-rest period of the game, whereas now, Green adds punch to a unit that could be pretty effective with a now healthy Delonte West, who not only looked sharp last night against the Nuggets, but also didn't get arrested for any felonies before, during, or after the game.

The Freak Out: Oh my God. Who's going to guard Dwight Howard?

The talk down: Perkins was a solid - perhaps the best in the East - defender against Howard. But clearly - and rightfully so - the Celtics don't fear Howard and the Magic this year. They consider their best competition in the East to be the younger, faster Bulls and Heat. So they picked up Green, easily the most talented player in this trade (yes, Perkins is the best defender and rebounder. That is established, but he's not nearly the best player) ... but guess what? The Celtics also picked up another Thunder starter who, by the way, is also a 7-footer! You can't teach 7-feet tall. Agreed, he's 40 pounds lighter, a lesser defender, and hardly the same rebounder, but this particular 7-footer can actually stick 15-foot jumpers and sink freethrows. People are talking as if Krstic isn't even a part of this deal, but he is, in fact, a very significant part of it.

Intimidation Factor: 2
Hair Club or Shave it, dude.

The Freak Out: The Red Coats are coming! the Red Coats are coming! The Celtics are smaller! The Celtics are Smaller!

The Talk Down: Since when did the Celtics get smaller?

Nate Robinson (5'9") / Kendrick Perkins (6'10") = 12'7"
Jeff Green (6'9") / Nenad Krstic (7'0") = 13'9"

Did something happen with the metric system since I left school?
The Celtics got less beefy. They did not, however, get smaller.

The Freak Out: I'm really gonna miss Perk - his emotion, his fire, his dedication.

The Talk Down: I'm going to miss him too. He is a blue-collar, down-in-the-trenches player who was beloved in Boston for the Garnett-like emotion and defensive focus he brought to the team. But guess what - he was offered the maximum-possible contract extension from his beloved Celtics while he was rehabbing from a catastrophic knee injury, and refused it. That tells me that despite being given a vote of confidence during a vulnerable time, he's a player who, like most, puts business ahead of emotion. So when I hear now, through his appointed spokesman Nate Robinson, that he's really broken up about leaving, it rings hollow, and if he really felt that way, he should have taken the max extension when it was offered to him. If you, [insert player name here], put your own [well-being / financial situation / future] ahead of all else, don't be upset or surprised when your team's management acts in its own best interests as well.

P.S.> Sure, Perkins wants to be compensated for his talent, but his talent consists of being a top-notch role player on a fantastic team. In a four year span, Jeff Goldblum was in two of the biggest movies of all time, Jurassic Park and Independence Day - but that doesn't make him Tom Cruise. Can't you just see Goldblum in 1998 in some producer's office going "My last two movies made a billion dollars each! Pay me accordingly!"
Sorry Perk, you're just Jeff Goldblum.
(For the record, I love and appreciate Jeff Goldblum's distinct talents as well).

AP Photo: Jeff Goldblum scans the horizon for a big budget movie in which he can play the lead.

The freak out: If we make the finals, how are we going to go up against the Laker bigs?

The Talk Down: Did I mention the Celtics also picked up a 7-footer in this trade, essentially getting two players for one (Nate Robinson doesn't count, in case you were wondering)? And by the way, the O'Neal's will be ready for the playoffs. I wouldn't be surprised if "I get to rest and sip tea during the regular season because I'm 38" is stenciled into Shaq's contract. I also wouldn't be surprised if "I get to rest and sip coffee during the regular season because I'm a lazy, injury prone, self-centered twerp" is stenciled into Jermaine O'Neal's contract.

The Freak Out: NOW, if Shaq and Jermaine aren't healthy for the playoffs, we're doomed!

The Talk Down: That was the case before anyway. So?

The Freak Out: If you're short on big men, why get rid of [7-footer] Semih Arden too, and for practically nothing?

The Talk Down: That one seems a little curious, but I'm going to give the guy who got Ray Allen (and is now getting back the guy he gave up for Ray Allen) and who extricated KG from the Timberwolves the benefit of the doubt that he's not finished dealing. I'm not saying he's Red Auerbach or anything, but I'll assume he's got a buy-out player in mind. Did I mention the Cavs just waived former Celtic Leon Powe? And besides, if a guy named Semih is your key to success, pack it in and hope for the best next year.

The Freak Out: How will we continue to succeed without Kendrick Perkins in the lineup?

The Talk Down: You do realize that Perkins has been rehabbing most of the season to this point and the Celtics are at the top of the East, right?

The Freak Out: I know, Perkins...he's part of the "Big Five"

The Talk Down: Correction. Big Four. People who say the Big Five are giving Perkins too much credit. Have you ever seen Jurassic Park? What about the Fly?

"Ok, I'll do it. but I want my own trailer."

The Freak Out: But this starting five have have never lost a playoff series!

The Talk Down: Fourteen words: The 18-0 New England Patriots march into Superbowl XLII. What could go wrong?

The Freak Out: Who the hell is Jeff Green?

The Talk Down: This is who he is. Look, if a guy has a youtube video of highlights, he must be pretty good. Ok sure, I kind of have a highlight video too, but that's beside the point.

The Freak Out: The Lakers are coming! The Lakers are coming!

The Talk Down: Are you positive? Have you seen that new Thunder lineup?

Editor's Note: Yes, this post had TWO photos of Jeff Goldblum. You're Welcome, World!

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