Amid all the drama this week surrounding the departures of Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson and three other now-former Celtics, the C's have also found time to play a few basketball games. And all things considered, their results haven't been all that bad.
The Celtics won three games out of four on the week-long West road-trip, wrapping things up with an impressive 107-102 win over the Jazz at the Delta Center. They've now got a one-game lead over the Heat for the top mark in the Eastern Conference, and they're looking like the favorites to return to the NBA Finals again.
But while the C's are still winning, that's not the story anymore. In Boston, everyone's focus is on the new-look C's moving on without Perk. Let's explore seven thoughts on the revamped squad.
1. You know who the Celtics should pursue first with their open roster space this week? Wally Szczerbiak. Then, the Celtics' 2007 trade with the Sonics would come full circle — on draft night in '07, the C's dealt Szczerbiak, Delonte West and the draft rights to Jeff Green for Ray Allen and the rights to Glen Davis. Now the C's have four of the five players under contract again, and if they can land Szczerbiak, they'll have the fifth. (The former Celtic is now working as a hoops analyst for CBS, though. Might be tough to pry him away.)
2. Perkins' trade to the Thunder last week may have caught a loyal Boston fan base off guard, but the center himself was fully prepared for the move.
"I actually talked to my agent about Oklahoma City last year," Perk told the media when he arrived in OKC. "I knew my contract was coming to an end, so I asked him, 'Do you think they would be interested?' God works in mysterious ways, and now I'm happy to be here."
Maybe Perk wasn't as hurt to leave Boston as we all suspected.
Update: Perkins reportedly agreed to an extension with the Thunder on Tuesday.
3. Nate Robinson's doing just fine in OKC too. Why, you ask? Because he's a big fan of eating Sonic fast food. His personal favorite, according to The Oklahoman, is a chili dog, tater tots and a slushie.
"I'm going to be at Sonic a lot," Robinson told the paper. "I might have to invest in one sooner or later."
Nate may be having a blast in Oklahoma, home of the drive-in chain, but he hasn't gotten any minutes yet under Scott Brooks. Maybe he should lay off the fast food and stay in game shape.
4. Lost in all the Perk anguish was one simple fact: Nenad Krstic is actually a pretty decent basketball player. The 27-year-old Serbian center turned in nine points and six rebounds Saturday in his Celtic debut, and he started Monday night in Utah with a bang, dropping 10 in the first quarter. Adding Krstic gives the Celtics an offensive-minded center to plug in while Shaquille O'Neal sits out, and the Celtics need that. Having an extra scoring threat on the floor can keep defenses honest and spread the floor for the C's other weapons.
5. The Celtics' battle with the Nuggets on Thursday night didn't end well, with the C's surrendering a 16-0 run late to give away an otherwise perfectly winnable game. But the one plus from that night was that Paul Pierce, who buried two 3-pointers in Denver, passed Steve Nash and moved into the NBA's all-time top 10 in career treys made. Pierce now has 1,550 career trifectas, while Nash is right behind with 1,547. Of course, the C's captain only ranks second on his own team in career 3's made.
6. The best part of this weekend wasn't Oscar night — it was seeing Kevin Garnett and Blake Griffin go head-to-head for the first time. The Clippers' All-Star rookie said KG was a "tough matchup" and praised his defensive chops — and he also said something really interesting. He said KG wasn't talking much.
"He was pretty quiet," Griffin told The Boston Globe. "He was pretty calm. He was just talking about how many minutes I've been playing. I can't make out what he said when he's got the Kung Fu grip on you or something. We didn't talk a whole lot."
Since when is KG ever one for peace and quiet?
7. The Celtics' win Monday over the Jazz was thrilling from start to finish, but for the avid C's fan, the biggest moment was seeing Rajon Rondo step up and nail a mid-range jump shot in the final minute with the game on the line. Rondo got the ball with 24 seconds left and the Celtics only up two, and rather than cling to the ball or dribble the life out of it, the young point guard showed some guts and took the shot. It went in, and it sealed a big win. The Celtics need Rondo to keep taking that shot going forward — if he can give the C's crucial buckets in crunch time, then there's pretty much nothing left that he can't do.