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.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.