Even if sentimentally, you might really, really want to.
Danny Ainge and the rest of the C’s front office did everything they could to keep center Kendrick Perkins a happy, healthy part of the Celtic family. After eight long years together, they were obligated to do so. But there’s no room for sentimentality when you’re in the business of winning championships. And there’s no room for serious health risks, either.
The Celtics’ trade of Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday afternoon, along with Nate Robinson in exchange for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and the Clippers’ first-rounder in 2012, came as a shock to us all. Perk is a true Celtic — in fact, he’s even been around longer than coach Doc Rivers. But the more you think about this deal, the more you’re forced to begrudgingly admit that it makes sense.
The Celtics need healthy bigs for the stretch run and for the postseason. They can’t win when their key post players are injured — they learned that last year, when Perkins went down against the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. They needed to revamp their big man corps dramatically. They needed someone, anyone, who could be a sure thing.
Perk was anything but. Between his torn right ACL last June and his strained left MCL this week, the C’s had reasonable cause to suspect his health wouldn’t be right. Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden (also on his way out of Boston) have been similarly iffy, to say the least. So in Green and Krstic, the Celtics found two guys they could trust.
Green is 24 years old and has two good knees. In the 302 games the Oklahoma City Thunder have played since acquiring him in 2007, Green has been healthy and active in 289 of them. Barring a freak accident, the C’s know they can count on Green for quality minutes the rest of the way.
Krstic is a seven-footer, and those guys always come with at least minor health risks, but he’ll undoubtedly be the healthiest seven-footer the Celtics have had this season. He’s in his prime at 27.
Green will be an active rebounder and a bit of a scorer, too — astute C’s fans might remember the Thunder forward torching them last season with two late 3′s to steal a win at the TD Garden. At 6-foot-9, he’s got the long, quick, athletic body to be versatile and guard both threes and fours. In a pinch, he might act as the Paul Pierce backup the C’s have so actively sought.
Krstic will be a constant presence down low, protecting the rim and getting boards. He might not play often in crunch time — that job will now fall to Glen Davis or (when healthy) Shaquille O’Neal — but he’ll perform admirably in his modest role.
The knee-jerk reaction to this trade, of course, is shock, but after you get past that initial emotional response, it’s not hard to make sense of what Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers were thinking.
To compete for a championship right now, the Celtics need fresh, healthy, reliable bodies. They just got two of them, and come June, that might pay off.