Danny Ainge, The Man Behind the Curtain?
Being General Manager of the Boston Celtics, there is a lot of pressure that is instilled in the decisions that have to be made every day. For GM Danny Ainge, many believe his most memorable was the key decision to trade away center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green. Though many may have looked at this specific trade as a peculiar one, let’s examine what these players have been able to do for their respective teams.
Three seasons ago, Perkins was traded to the Thunder along with point guard Nate Robinson, in exchange for prospect Jeff Green and center Nenad Kristic. Averaging 7.3 points per game and a career high 8.1 rebounds, there seemed no need to trade Perk, especially mid way through the season. The statistics weren’t the main concern though, it was losing the team chemistry.
“He’s taking it pretty hard because he’s been here eight years,” Robinson said while checking out of the team hotel in Denver” He was very emotional, crying. He has to move his family, and he’s been really tight with Rondo and other guys on the team. I feel his pain. It was tough when I left New York because of all the guys I’d been around.”
To most analysts, it seemed that splitting up a veteran team halfway through the season was not only pure insanity, but may have ruined the Celtics chances of winning a championship that year. With a starting five consisting of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, not only did this team seem ready and determined to win, but able to contend for championship number 18. Unfortunately Danny Ainge didn’t seem to agree, and blew up the team at the last second before the trade deadline.
The Celtics finished with a 56-26 record. Though the record may seem good on paper, the locker room and the team chemistry were in shambles. Boston was then bounced out of the playoffs by the Miami Heat, which led many to question whether trading their prized defensive anchor was a good move? Surprisingly…statistics say yes.
Perkins was acquired to fill a gaping hole in the Thunder’s defensive game and has seemed to fit in nicely. In his offensive game…not so much. Perkins is now averaging 4.3 points and 5.9 rebounds as a starter. Though these are not great numbers, the Thunder still find themselves with a 36-12 record and are second in the West. It has, most recently, been a different story for Jeff Green.
Returning to Boston after being drafted by the club in 2007, Green averaged 9.8 points and grabbed 3.3 rebounds. Things looked bright for the young Green until a serious heart problem was diagnosed and required off season surgery. This caused Green to miss the entire 2011-2012 season and again the Celtics fell short in the playoffs to the defending champion Miami Heat.
Now with Green back and better than ever, he has seen an increased role, especially with injuries to both Rondo and rookie Jared Sullinger. Green has been able to average 9.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. With this type of play, many may now have to wonder whether it was a good trade for the Celtics in the long run? Though Ainge was responsible for starting the “Big Three” era, he has also made some questionable trades throughout his career. Was trading Kendrick Perkins one of those trades? For a team that has been destroyed with injuries, Boston is now on a four game winning streak; only time will tell whether the Celtics can make one final run at the playoffs.