Religion, politics and the Perkins trade


Religion, politics and the Perkins trade

By Rich Levine

It's been a while since I've really written anything about the Kendrick Perkins trade. In fact, unless you count taking veiled (or not-so-veiled) shots at Jeff Green, I've hardly mentioned it at all.

That's because most of the time, it's just not worth it.

It's gotten to the point where bringing up the Perk trade is like talking about religion or politics. It doesn't matter who the person is on the other side of the conversation, there's a good chance that you'll disagree. And if you do, it's going to get ugly.

What makes it such a hot-button issue is that, like religion and politics, each side of the argument has its own extremists: A very vocal and volatile minority that only sees things in black and white, and wont be satisfied until their opinions are accepted as fact.

Because they're so loud, they're typically the ones driving the conversation. Questions are raised, chaos ensues, and we just end up arguing over the wrong things.

For instance, the Celtics lose two in a row in Miami and the anti-trade camp rushes to uncover all the reasons why Perk wouldve helped. Meanwhile, the other sides scrambling to round up all the reasons he wouldnt have. The issue becomes: Would the Celtics be down 2-0 if they still had Kendrick Perkins?

And they spend the next three days yelling at each other:

Perk wouldve done this!

But he wouldnt have done that!
He can do this!

But he cant do that!

Both sides are wrong. Both sides are right. No ones wrong. No ones right. It goes on forever and the rest of us are stuck in the middle or leaning in one direction but mostly just shaking our heads and wishing everyone would just calm down.

When Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on this deal, we knew it would define this season. When everything happened, he said hed built a team to win this year, so that immediately became the barometer. And for that reason, it made sense for the jury to remain out until the season ended and all the evidence had been presented.

Instead, these two extremes argued every step of the way. After every loss, it was See! After every win, it was See! And now were in the playoffs, two-plus months since Perk was shipped out, and were still breaking it down on a game-by-game basis.

Listen, I know knee-jerk reactions are half the fun of being a sports fan. I know thats what keeps the phones lit up and the ratings high. But in this case, its just not important. After two months, it's no longer knee-jerk. Right now, the question: Would the Celtics be down 2-0 if they still had Kendrick Perkins? is completely irrelevant.

How can you just insert him into this series and ignore all thats happened since he left? How can we assume that anythings remained unaffected?

If he sticks around, maybe the Cs hold on to the No. 1 seed and this series doesnt exist. Maybe they hang on to the No. 2 seed, have home-court advantage, and everythings turned upside down.

On the other side: Sure, Perks healthy now. But how would he have held up when he came back from that second knee injury and was Bostons only center for the rest of March (and most of April)?

Also, if the Celtics never traded Perk, they wouldnt have acquired Jeff Green (wait, let me just embrace that for a second). But they still would have made a deal for a small forward. So, whod they get? Howd he play? Hows he playing now?

Of course, there are no answers to any these questions. Theyre all hypothetical. Just like: Would the Celtics be down 2-0 if they still had Perk? We just dont know. And never will.

So why bother? Why even make it about Perk? As of today, whats he going to do to get the Celtics out of this hole? What hes going to do to save their season?

Believe me, I love Perk as much as the next guy. But at this moment, I couldnt care less about him.

You want to argue that theyd be better with him still on the team? Sure, Ill buy it.

You want to tell me that theyd be worse? Okay. Im sold.

You want to say it doesnt make a difference? Yes! Im right there with you!

Honestly, I dont care. Im more concerned with this. The one thing that we know for sure about the current state of the Celtics, and the one thing that everyone, regardless of where they stand on the trade, can agree upon:

The team Danny Ainge thought he was putting together still hasnt come together.

And theyre running out of time to do so.

Maybe all the pieces are there. Actually, if Shaq plays on Sunday, all the pieces are there. But the pieces dont quite fit. And until (or unless) they lose two more games, thats all that matters. That locker room, at this moment. Not a guy who hasn't played a game at the Garden since two days after Valentine's Day.

Theyll be plenty of time to do that after the seasons over and the final verdicts been handed down. Well have the rest of our lives to debate the Kendrick Perkins trade.

And something tells me we will.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Rich can be reached at Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Potential is there, now how quickly will Jaylen Brown reach it?


Potential is there, now how quickly will Jaylen Brown reach it?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON –  When it comes to high NBA draft picks, there’s always a certain roll-of-the-dice dynamic in play, regardless of how impressive their credentials were in making them one of the first players selected.

Among this year’s incoming rookie class, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown is indeed one of the many men of mystery whose professional basketball career officially starts in a few months.

Drafted third overall, the 6-foot-7 Brown wasn’t exactly greeted with the warmest reception by Celtics Nation, many of whom wanted Boston to draft Providence College star Kris Dunn (he was the fifth overall pick, to Minnesota) or package the No. 3 pick with other assets to acquire a superstar-caliber player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Utah’s Gordon Hayward or one of the Philadelphia big men, Jahlil Okafor or Massachusetts native Nerlens Noel.

But as Celtics fans witnessed when he was among the biggest stars on Boston’s summer league entry in Salt Lake City, as well as Las Vegas, Brown is indeed a player with tremendous potential that could be realized as soon as this season.  

The ceiling for Brown: All-Rookie honors

Brown’s most likely starting point as a pro will be serving as a backup to Jae Crowder, the unofficial Swiss Army knife of the Celtics roster. As we saw last season in Crowder’s first as a regular NBA starter, he can play a lot of positions on the floor and be effective.

Brown isn’t close to being as versatile as Crowder, but he does provide versatility at the wing position due to his above-average length and a level of athleticism that stands out among his fellow rookies.

Depending on what Brown does with his minutes at the start of the season – and he will play early on – he could parlay his on-court time into extended minutes, which would give him a shot at being one of the top rookies this season.

Brown isn’t going to put up the big-time numbers that Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons and Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, the No. 1 and 2 picks, will register. Still, unlike those two players, Brown will be fighting for playing time on a legitimate playoff contender.

Both the Sixers and Lakers are poised to once again be among the worst teams in the NBA.

That means Browns’ success can’t be based on statistics, but instead it has to be about impact. We saw glimpses of that in the summer when he showed off his ability to attack the rim and draw contact, which resulted in him taking more than 10 free throws per game.

No one is expecting Brown to be that proficient at getting fouls called for him, especially when you consider only two players in the NBA last season – Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and Houston’s James Harden – averaged 10 or more free throws per game.

But Brown’s aggressive style on offense, coupled with above-average athleticism and length defensively, will bode well for his chances of being more than just a solid rookie for Boston.

Brown has the potential to make a noticeable impact, the kind that would most likely land him a spot on one of the NBA’s All-Rookie teams and move him a step closer towards being one of the NBA’s better players – a goal he has set for himself.

The floor for Brown: Active roster

If Brown struggles offensively and doesn’t adjust defensively as quick as coach Brad Stevens wants, Brown could find himself on the bench racking up a few DNP-CDs (did not play-coaches decision) this season.

Still, even if that happens, the Celtics will not let him spend too much time at the end of the bench and certainly wouldn’t look to have him on the bench in street clothes as a healthy scratch. They would just as soon send him to play or practice with the team’s Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

While the rumors swirled on draft night that Boston was indeed planning to make a blockbuster-type move that would have involved the No. 3 pick, you won’t hear anyone in the front office complaining about drafting Brown.

They love his competitiveness, his drive to steadily improve as a player as well as his athleticism, which sets him apart from most of his Celtics teammates.

But only time will tell just how quickly the faster-paced NBA game will come to Brown. He’s a player the Celtics – for now at least – have every intention of including as part of their core group going forward.

Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird


Dominique Wilkins reflects on his rivalry with Larry Bird

During our series discussing the 1986 Boston Celtics, we have sat down with many players from that championship, along with members of the media that were close to the team.

This week features a few of the opponents that were very familiar with the 1980’s Celtics  - Atlanta Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins, former Celtics coach (and Hawk) Doc Rivers, and Lakers great James Worthy.

Return of Gerald Green could fill vital bench role for Celtics


Return of Gerald Green could fill vital bench role for Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON –  Say what you want about Gerald Green, but his athleticism is the one thing you can bank on him delivering.

The 30-year-old Green doesn’t play above the rim nearly as much as he used to, but he does enough to where his presence will indeed be an upgrade for the Celtics this season.

But in terms of what his exact role will be, that will be worked out in the coming months as Green begins a second tour of duty with Boston (the Celtics drafted him with the 18th overall pick in 2005).

The ceiling for Green: Sixth or seventh man

Green’s return will in no way impact Jae Crowder’s status as the Celtics’ starting small forward. And Avery Bradley has nothing to worry about when it comes to Green competing for his spot as the team’s starting shooting guard, either. But Green’s experience will give him a chance to compete for minutes behind both coming off the bench.

At 6-foot-8, Green has the size and length to play both positions. And having played nine seasons in the NBA, Green has learned enough in that time to find ways to impact games in ways besides highlight-quality dunks.

Green is coming off a not-so-stellar season in Miami in which he averaged 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and just 32.3 percent on 3s – both numbers below his career averages.

Part of Green’s drop in production last season (he averaged 11.9 points or more in three of the previous four seasons) had to do with the emergence of Justice Winslow, and Green’s own shooting struggles, which eventually led to him playing a more limited role in the Heat offense.

But in Boston, Green won’t be counted on to be a significant contributor in terms of scoring. Instead, he will be seen as a player who can be looked upon from time to time to provide some punch (offensively or defensively) from the wing. If we’re talking offense, Green can help both from the perimeter or as an effectively attacker of the rim.

The floor for Green: Active roster

As much as the attention surrounding Green’s game centers on what he does with the ball in his hands, it his defense that will keep him on the Celtics’ active roster all season. Although Miami sought scoring more often from others, doing so allowed Green to focus more of his attention on defense, which may wind up being the best thing for his career at this stage.

Coming off the bench primarily after the All-Star break, opponents shot 33.3 percent when defended by Green, which was more than 10 percentage points (10.9) below what they shot from the field (44.2) overall.

He was even tougher on opponents shooting 2-pointers against him. They were held more than 15 percentage points (15.5) below their shooting percentage from 2-point range when he was defending versus their overall shooting for the season.

But don’t be fooled.

Green can still score the ball and as he gets older, he’s finding more and more ways to do so.

While much of Green’s NBA success has come about with him attacking the rim, he has progressively improved his game as a catch-and-shoot player. In fact, 54.8 percent of his shot attempts last season were of the catch-and-shoot variety according to

That makes sense when you consider that he had an effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) of .491 when he took shots without taking any dribbles, which was better than Green’s eFG% when he shot from the floor and took at least one dribble.

Green’s second stint with the Celtics doesn’t come with nearly as much hype as there was when Boston selected him  out of high school with the 18th overall pick in 2005. Still, he has the potential to fill a vital role for the Celtics now, a role that could go far in determining how successful this season will be for himself as well as the Celtics.