By Phil Perry
Danny Ainge wanted to make it clear. The trade that sent Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City in exchange for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic was completed on Thursday to help the Celtics get their 18th NBA championship this season. Not later.
"This is to help us win now," said Ainge, the Celtics' President of Basketball Operations, appearing on Comcast SportsNet's Celtics Pregame Live show Thursday night. "I always have to have my eye on the future. We were able to get a Clippers' first-round pick in 2012, which I think is a real building block as some of our guys are getting a little bit older. That's a huge piece to get.
"But the players we're getting, a 24-year-old three man that's versatile Green, and a 27-year-old center on a playoff team Krstic, and to create three roster spots to add some veterans, that's good for us."
Green is the Celtics' prized acquisition from the deal, Ainge explained.
"I think Jeff Green is a terrific player," Ainge said. "We need his athleticism, we need his length. I think anybody that has watched us play knows that our bench has struggled. Jeff is a 16-point-a-game scorer . . . with a lot of energy, athleticism, youth, range, shooting, post-up ability, especially at the small forward position. I think he brings a big boost to our team."
Ainge believes Krstic, Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal should be able to handle the load at center for the Celtics now that Perkins is out of the picture. The team could acquire more help down low with three roster spots available to fill with who Ainge called "worthy veterans."
"Krstic should be here by Saturday and be ready to play," said Ainge. "Hopefully we'll have another few roster spots filled in the next week or so."
The Celtics tipped off against the Nuggets Thursday with nine players in uniform, but Ainge is confident that when Green and Krstic arrive, and when the three vacant roster spots are filled, the team will be better than it was on Wednesday.
"I think you'll see it all come together, and I think you'll like what you see with more veterans, more shooting on our team, a little bit more versatility," Ainge said. "There will be a little bit more of adjustment period, for sure. But I think overall we'll be more suited, and more ready for the playoffs."