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The Pulse of the NBA


By Andy Roth
Contributing Editor


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    New York, NY (Sports Network) - The days leading up to the NBA trade deadline were riveting. Here are some observations in my latest take on the NBA:

    BOSTON CELTICS

    I think the most stunning and surprising trade was Boston dealing Kendrick Perkins along with Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic as well as a future first-round draft pick. I'm having as difficult a time as head coach Doc Rivers and some of the Celtics players indicated about whether this trade makes the Celtics a better team.

    "Well, the bottom line is we'll see," Rivers said. "We think we did pretty well. Red (Auerbach) would always say, whatever the single-best player in the trade is, try to get it. But whether that's Jeff Green or Perk, we don't know that. Krstic is a good piece for us as well. He spreads the floor, which I think is great for (Rajon) Rondo. Jeff Green does as well, which I think is great for Rondo."

    All-Stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren't sure either if the Celtics are a better team as a result of the trade. "I don't know, that's going to be the big question and time is going to tell all that," Garnett said.

    "You just hope that Danny (Ainge, team president) and Doc know what they're doing," Pierce said. "We put our trust in them."

    Without Perkins, a healthy Shaquille O'Neal will be vital to a Boston championship run. One of the Celtics' biggest assets was the amount of physical, big bodies they could throw at teams, but if Shaq isn't operating at full strength during the playoffs, the Celtics will be hard-pressed to put up an 18th championship banner.

    The addition of Green and Krstic should help Boston on the offensive end, but we're also talking about two finesse players who will be of no help against the likes of Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum.

    One point you can't question about the deal is that with Perkins the Celtics made two appearances in the NBA Finals and won one championship.

    OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

    Oklahoma City lacked a physical, defensive presence in the middle, and immediately solved that problem with the addition of Perkins. The Thunder also added another big body by dealing for Nazr Mohammed from the Charlotte Bobcats (for guard Morris Peterson and forward D.J. White).

    With the departure of Green, Serge Ibaka moves into the starting power forward slot, vastly improving the defense and rebounding at that position.

    The Thunder clearly weren't going to be a legitimate title contender with Krstic and Green up front, but I'm not convinced they have elevated themselves to that level yet as a result of the big trade.

    OKC's defense was a major problem this season, and it should be significantly upgraded by the deal, but there are still some deficiencies with this roster. Green was the only reliable scorer besides Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and without him the Thunder are left without someone who can back up Durant at small forward effectively. Meanwhile, starting shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha (5.1 ppg) is an offensive liability, and his backup, James Harden (42-percent field-goal percentage), is inconsistent.

    Durant and Westbrook account for 48 percent of the Thunder's offense, and without a reliable third option, it may be asking too much of them to carry so much of the scoring load.

    NEW YORK KNICKS

    When Amar'e Stoudemire signed with the Knicks, and again, after they acquired Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, he declared, "The Knicks are back." So far they're only back to being able to lose to the worst team in the league (Cleveland Cavaliers) for a second time this season and then show they're capable of beating an elite team on occasion as they did Sunday night in Miami against the Heat.

    The Knicks received Anthony, point guards Chauncey Billups and Anthony Carter, and forwards Sheldon Williams and Renaldo Balkman, from the Nuggets for forwards Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, point guard Raymond Felton, rookie center Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft choice and second-round picks in 2012 and 2013.

    The Knicks felt they had to get a second star to eventually be a championship contender, but it came at a high price and will make the process more difficult. By giving up so many chips in the trade, they were left with even less depth, making it difficult to significantly increase the talent level outside another major free agent signing.

    I think the Knicks will have to eventually secure Chris Paul of Deron Williams to elevate themselves to one of the elite teams in the league. As great as scorers as Stoudemire and Anthony are, they don't make other players better, and I don't think this pair alone, without a point guard better than Billups, can bring New York a championship.

    NEW JERSEY NETS

    The Nets desperately wanted to add a star player in lieu of their move to Brooklyn in 2012, and did just that, but it wasn't the name we expected. After seeing Anthony land with their local rival in New York, the Nets shocked the basketball world by acquiring one of the league's elite point guards in Deron Williams.

    The Nets gave up point guard Devon Harris, rookie forward Derrick Favors and first-round picks in each of the next two years.

    While the Knicks know Anthony will be around the next 3 1/2 years after he signed a three-year, $65 million extension, the Nets can't say the same about Williams, who is eligible for free agency following the 2011-2012 season.

    "I can't really give any assurances or say that I'll be here," said Williams at his introductory press conference. "I don't know what the future holds, I look forward to the possibility of signing it (signing an extension), it's definitely a strong possibility. It all depends on how the next year goes, (the collective bargaining agreement), the type of moves we make and the people we bring into the organization.."

    Nets general manager Billy King may have to be a miracle worker to put the kind of talent around Williams to convince him to stay around for the long haul. Outside of Brook Lopez, who has regressed this season, the current roster is full of a lot of mediocre NBA players.

    With this summer's free agent class not exceptionally strong, and the fact the Nets had to package this year's No. 1 pick to get Williams, it will be difficult for King to make the kind of improvements it will take to prevent Williams from bolting.

    Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.


    Copyright 2011


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