February 24, 2011
If anyone knows what Boston Celtic general manager Danny Ainge is doing, kindly take the first ferry you can into Boston Harbor. Because Celtics fans are lining the waterfront and ready to jump.
In a stunning series of moves reported by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski just before the NBA's trade deadline expired, Ainge coupled a litany of Boston rotation parts and sent them scattering across the NBA.
Paramount of which was the deal that sent center Kendrick Perkins(notes) and diminutive guard Nate Robinson(notes) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for undersized power forward Jeff Green(notes) and center Nenad Krstic(notes). Soon after, Ainge sent burly rookie forward Luke Harangody(notes) and rookie pivotman Semih Erden(notes) to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second-round pick.
After Krstic, the moves leave the Celtics with Shaquille O'Neal(notes) and Jermaine O'Neal(notes) manning the pivot for Boston. That wouldn't have been a problem 10 years ago when they ranked as the best centers in their respective conferences, but that is far from the case in 2011. Shaq has missed 19 games so far this season, and Jermaine has missed twice as many in his first year as a Celtic. And though Erden wasn't great shakes (or even capable in small bursts) as a starter for Boston this season, he was a body to plug in the middle as the Celtics potentially moved past Roy Hibbert(notes), Joakim Noah(notes) and Dwight Howard(notes) on their way to meeting the Los Angeles Lakers (featuring two elite 7-footers).
In the place of all this bulk -- should O'Neal's health fail them again -- will be Krstic. Krstic has long been a solid offensive performer. If the setting is right, he can score around the hoop and his range extends to about 18 feet on the baseline and a little shorter from straightaway. But his rebounding is poor, he isn't much of a defender and he's had his own injury woes throughout his career.
And though the Celtics will enjoy Delonte West's(notes) return to full strength, Robinson was a game-changer for this team and a hit in the locker room. Perkins was a hit everywhere, especially to the midsections of driving guards and opposing centers. And where, exactly, does Jeff Green play?
On an open roster, we don't know where Jeff Green plays. He's a poor rebounder, an awful defender at the power-forward slot, and he doesn't do enough offensively to warrant a look at small forward. And yet, this doesn't stop him from shooting nearly four 3-pointers a game, despite making only 30 percent of his looks from out there. His shot selection has been an issue since his rookie year, and it's still hard to tell, exactly, where he fits in this league. Other than a guy that seems to luck into getting big minutes and plenty of shot opportunities.
It's truly hard to see what Danny Ainge sees in these moves. Perkins has missed most of the year after recovering from surgery on his right knee, and he was going to be out for a spell with a sprained knee, but all indications had him at full strength for the playoffs. In his absence, they'll have Krstic, almost completely the anti-Kendrick. And then shipping out Robinson just for the chance to lose both Robinson's and Perkins' contracts? Losing Harangody (who can play) and Erden (who, uh, has played) for nothing in a win-now year?
It is entirely possible that Ainge has something up his sleeve. That a potentially fertile buyout season could see the Celtics finding help at center (with Samuel Dalembert(notes)), power forward (with Troy Murphy(notes)), or in the backcourt (if Richard Hamilton(notes) ever decides that he wants to earn the money he's been guaranteed to play pro basketball). This might not be over.
Even with those potential additions, though, what was the point? Boston is percentage points ahead of the Miami Heat before Thursday's action hits, and they own the tie-breaker over the Heat. What, exactly, needed shaking up?
This has to be what Boston fans are muttering to themselves, over and over again, as they shake their heads.
Follow Yahoo! Sports on Facebook and be the first to know about the most interesting stories of the day.