It's a happy anniversary for Perkins

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It's a happy anniversary for Perkins

OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma City Thunder locker room had become a virtual ghost town, with not a player in sight except Kendrick Perkins.

He emerged from the hot tub, towel draped around his waist with water rolling off his shoulders.

Perkins apologized for being so late leaving the hot tub, unaware that anyone was waiting.

From there, he proceeded to touch on a number of topics, including the one-year anniversary of the trade that dramatically changed the direction of two teams.

Boston's decision to trade Perkins to Oklahoma City has not worked on so many levels. Short-term, the key acquisition for Boston - Jeff Green - never quite made the impact the C's were hoping for. The Thunder, conversely, have established themselves as one of the favorites to win it all this season.

Meanwhile, Perkins provided toughness, physical play and the battle scars that come from fighting for, and ultimately wining, an NBA title.

"I'm happy Danny Ainge traded him to us," said Thunder star Kevin Durant.

And Perkins, well, let's just say the way he feels about the trade today is radically different than his immediate emotions following the trade.

"Oh, I was pissed; that's real talk," Perkins told CSNNE.com. "But hey, like they always say, this is a business. And being traded? That's part of the business."

Perkins soon clarifies that his anger was more about disappointment that he wouldn't be able to continue playing with the only team, the only franchise, he had known.

And having won a title, he said, made it hurt even more.

"That's what you play for, to win a championship," he said. "I honestly felt we were going to win one again. That's what I was most pissed about; not being able to win another one with my guys."

But it didn't take Perkins too long to embrace his new teammates, and vice versa.

While no one disputes Durant is the Thunder's leader, having someone with Perkins' presence, experience and big-game experience has been instrumental in Oklahoma City's rise to the top of the NBA mountaintop.

"He brought a different type of swagger," Durant said. "His aura is great to be around. He's great to be around. He's a leader."

And that, maybe more than anything else, was the biggest difference between his role in Boston and his new one with the Thunder.

"They kind of looked up to me to be a leader," Perkins admitted. "I was cool with that; real cool with that. After being around Ticket Kevin Garnett and the Truth Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, shoot, you can't ask for better leaders than those guys."

It didn't take long for his teammates to realize that they may have as much talent as anybody, but their toughness had to be ratcheted up.

And Perkins was going to be the one to make it happen.

"I wouldn't say they were a soft team before I got here," Perkins said. "I just think by me being who I am, I think that brought a lot of the toughness inside of them, out."

And as he reflects on all that has transpired in the year since the trade, he admits it's all bittersweet.

He left a team that was more to him than just teammates.

They were brothers; mostly older brothers who helped shape him into the player, the man, he is today.

To see them struggle so since his departure, and being unable to do anything about it, is not easy for him to deal with or accept.

"Those fellas are like family to me," Perkins said. "When you go through all that we did, the losing, getting Ticket and Ray, winning a championship . . . it's tough walking away from that; real tough."

But Perkins isn't shedding any tears over his new gig, either.

He is an integral part of an Oklahoma City team that many believe have what it takes now to win a championship.

And as you listen to Perkins talk about his new teammates in this new city that's relatively close to his home state of Texas, you see something you rarely from Perkins in Boston - a smile.

"I'm good," he said. "I'm blessed. I can't complain. I'm with a young team, and my role ain't really changed. I can go out there and be me. I don't have to do too much; winning, and playing with great players, in a great system. It's definitely a blessing."

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Lowe: Wouldn't be shocked if C's move Bradley

Zach Lowe’s most recent podcast is worth a listen, as it features plenty of talk about what the Celtics may or may not due ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. 

Lowe brought up the possibility of the Celtics top-1 or top-2-protecting Brooklyn’s first-round pick and including it in a deal for Butler. He surmises that the inclusion of the Brooklyn pick -- protected or not -- might not come until the final minutes. 

“Look, if Butler gets traded or if Paul George gets traded, that’s when it’s going to happen,” Marc Stein responded. “It’s going to happen in the last five to 10 minutes, so Boston has to make a decision, and let's see if they’re doing the math that they’ve had these assets for a while and it is time to do something bold and the time is now. Really, I think Boston will do it. The question is what will Chicago or Indiana do? And those are two hard reads.” 

Stein spoke to the Celtics’ lack of activity at certain points, but he said that if the C’s do fail to come away with a star player Thursday, it won’t be for lack of aggressiveness. 

MORE TRADE TALK

“I think the Celtics are taking criticism for waiting, and they’ve had all these assets they haven’t moved yet, but I think the record shows that Danny Ainge in general, in total, is very aggressive, not afraid to roll the dice, not afraid to make the aggressive move,” Stein said. “So I have less doubt about Boston saying, ‘Let’s just do it.’ I have far more questions about what Chicago and/or Indiana would do.” 

Lowe said that he imagines the Bulls would “think about” trading the C's Butler if Boston threw in the Nets’ pick unprotected, but added that Chicago would demand to also take two players out of Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown. 

“I think that will be the offer and they’ll get there and Chicago will either have a moment where they say, ‘We walk away or we’ll do it.’ And Boston’s not going to throw in the other Nets pick,” Lowe said. “That’s just not going to happen.”

Rating the aforementioned foursome in terms of trade value, Lowe said that Crowder is the best piece because of his “ridiculously good” contract, followed by Brown, Smart and Bradley. 

Lowe added that he considers Bradley one of the “sneaky interesting pieces at this trade deadline” because his contract is up after next season, which is the same time that Isaiah Thomas’ contract expires. Lowe says that given the uncertainty of his future in Boston, he wouldn’t be overly surprised if Bradley is moved at the deadline. 

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Report: Ainge wouldn't trade Nets pick for Butler, but would for George

Will the Celtics part with the right to Brooklyn’s 2017 first-round pick in order to get a star before Thursday’s trade deadline? 

MORE TRADE TALK

Citing a pair of NBA executives, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News wrote this week that Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade the pick should be in doubt.

Sola named Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and Paul George as potential targets, adding that the C’s might include the latter.   

Wrote Isola: 

Two executives doubt that Ainge, who historically plays it close to the vest, would give up the Nets pick in a deal for Butler. However, Ainge might consider it in a trade for George, the Pacers-free agent-to-be who has expressed doubts over re-signing with the Pacers.

‘With Danny, no one ever knows what he might do,' said the executive. ‘He's one of the best. If he thinks he can make a run at the Cavs this season, considering all the injuries Cleveland has had, I can see him making a move.

‘Everyone is talking about Butler to Boston but Danny and Larry Bird go way back. Paul George could be the sleeper.’

This season, the 26-year-old George is averaging 22.3 points 6.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game.