Many Celtics fans were relieved Thursday at 3 p.m. when the NBA trade window closed and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had not been dealt away. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, in a rare move, decided to play his current hand rather than trading key pieces for the promise of youth, a future or salary cap space.
It hasn’t always been so, though, and the thought of losing Garnett and Pierce had many people thinking back to the last time Ainge pulled the trigger in a big way. In 2011, Ainge dealt Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a deal that brought Jeff Green to Boston. It was a sensible trade, considering Perkins’ injury history and that the Celtics would have been unlikely to retain him and the contract he commanded. But sensible still doesn’t help Boston fans who know that the C’s haven’t been able to break through in the Finals since Perkins left, and that the Celtics’ biggest need continues to be the lack of a big man.
Rajon Rondo has commented before about how the trade shook up the team, from the shock of the move to how the players’ workload shifted with new personnel. But even a couple of years later, when the Celtics have a much different team and have found ways to win without Perkins, the trade still appears to be a bitter pill.
“We still talk about that trade,” Rondo said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. “It still seems like we’re trying to replace Perk.”
Ainge doesn’t let too many people see what he’s thinking when he shuffles players and flips trades, but considering the effect the trade has had on the Celtics’ locker room and their chances at winning, the cognizant fan has to wonder whether the deadline trade just a couple of years ago played a part in Pierce and Garnett staying in green this time.