Deadline shocker: Celtics trade Perkins, Robinson to Thunder for Green, Krstic

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Boston has made a deadline deal that seems to weaken their defense as they head in the playoffs — and just made the Oklahoma City Thunder a much bigger threat in the West.

Boston has traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic, as confirmed by CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely (Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first). He also hints there may be another deal coming (Blakely tweeted they want to sign Troy Murphy), which might help explain this one.

Because for Boston this is a strange move — Perkins and his ferocious interior defense was a key part of their title run three years ago and push to the finals last year. While Kevin Garnett is the heart and soul of the Celtics and their defense, Perkins was the rock along the back line.

If the Celtics meet the Magic in the playoffs, they are going to have a much harder time containing Dwight Howard with Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Krstic. The Heat also were worried about Perkins ability to make it hard on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade driving the lane. No other Celtic big man on that roster intimidates them.

The Celtics will miss Perkins when it matters most. They will miss Robinson too, he did provide a scoring spark off the bench. In other moves. Boston traded Semih Erdan and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick; and they moved Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for cash. (We didn’t think Sacramento had any cash.)

Jeff Green is a quality backup combo forward, but he was overrated for a while and people are really taking notice of his weak defense and poor shot selection. He makes up for some of that with athleticism. He’s not a starter, not yet anyway, but as a backup to Paul Pierce he’s an improvement over Marquis Daniels. Marginally. Maybe Green is someone who could someday develop enough to slide into Pierce’s starting spot when he walks away. But this is a guy with a PER below the league average, he’s not that special. And his rookie contract is up in a couple years.

Apparently the primary concern for Boston is that Perkins could be a free agent this summer — they couldn’t afford to pay and keep him. While he had said he wanted to return there was a risk the Celtics could get nothing for him. So they were proactive. Even if it meant hurting the team in the short run.

The Thunder, on the other hand, got exactly what they needed. The long running concern has been their inability to match up with the Lakers long front line in the playoffs, or to stop penetrating guards. Perkins changes those things right off.

The Thunder also made a trade to get Nazr Mohammed from Charlotte for Mo Pete’s expiring and D.J. White. That gives them more real depth along the front line.

J.R. Smith replacing Dwyane Wade as Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard

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The Cavaliers are 2-1, but their starting lineups have been outscored by 19 points in 32 minutes. Dwyane Wade has been so bad as the starting shooting guard, his struggles have overshadowed J.R. Smith‘s miserable play as the backup.

But at least Wade volunteered a solution to this predictable problem.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Dwyane Wade is headed for the Cavaliers’ bench at his own request and J.R. Smith is returning to the starting lineup.

Wade, 35, a 12-time All-Star who struggled in his first three games with Cleveland, asked coach Tyronn Lue to make the change, Lue said. But this wasn’t exactly Wade’s idea, either.

Lue told him when he signed with the Cavs Sept. 27 that the second unit may be the best fit for him.

“I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I’d be more comfortable in and can probably better with this team in that lineup,” Wade said. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys.”

Cleveland’s starting lineup needs more shooting and defense around LeBron James – especially with Derrick Rose starting over an injured Isaiah Thomas (though Rose is out a couple games with his own ankle injury). Smith provides that.

Bench-heavy units need more playmaking. Wade provides that.

This was a tricky situation given Wade’s status as a future Hall of Famer and friendship with LeBron. Whether Wade simply suggested the change or Lue is trying to give Wade public credit after coaxing it behind the scenes, the result is the same.

The Cavs can now use their most logical rotation, and they should be better for it.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough: Eric Bledsoe hair-salon claim about tweet was unbelievable

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Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:

Clear message?

Apparently not.

After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:

The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.

Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.

It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.

Report: Suns send Eric Bledsoe home, expect to trade him

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In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Bledsoe:

That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.

This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.

At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.

Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.

But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

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Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.