When the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins at the deadline, it was to provide toughness and interior defence.Few could figure out why the Celtics could afford to part with Perk, unless their initial offer of an extension really was a line in the sand. Even stranger, though, was the notion that in Jeff Green, they might not even be getting a young player here to stay.
Green’s been in a state of flux all season. The Thunder signed Kevin Durant to an extension, but not him; Russell Westbrook has eclipsed him as the team’s number two option; and with the emergence of Serge Ibaka, his heuristic hold on the starting power forward position was anything but guaranteed. Some observers felt that, by acquiring Green, the Celtics would be laying the foundation for a post-Paul Pierce, post-Ray Allen team.
Rebuilding while winning titles is an old Red Auerbach trick; Perkins, good as he is, is most valuable with all the other pieces in place. Green could potentially be, along with Rajon Rondo, this team’s identity once the sun has set on Kevin Garnett et al. Except what if this season proves to be nothing more than an extended try-out, maybe even an inconclusive one? So far, it seems like that’s the team’s thinking. From The Sporting News:
He’s hoping to lock up a deal with the Celtics once the season is over, but the subject hasn’t even been broached with management.
“I mean, sure, this is a great team and the future is bright for this team with the pieces that we have,” Green told Sporting News on Wednesday. “If it comes to (signing a long-term contract), yeah. It hasn’t come up, though, not at all. We’re focused on getting to the Finals and winning a championship. The contract extension is something that, yeah, I would like that, but it is something that I am going to hold off on.”
Of course this is Green saying all the right things, projecting championship success and putting individual concerns second. But forget about him and his concerns. What happens if the Celtics trade one of their most popular, and effective, young players for a talent who, at season’s end, offers little reason to keep him on? There’s an argument to be made for the Celtics locking up Green now, if they really do believe that he’s an investment, not an experiment. Unless, of course, Danny Ainge really is content to sacrifice Perkins for little more than salary relief, with his team ageing and the East getting stronger every day.
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