Oklahoma City locks up Kendrick Perkins

ESPN has the details, via Ric Bucher.

Perkins will receive almost $36 million fully guaranteed over the course of the four-year contract, his agent, Bob Myers, told ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher.

As part of the deadline deal that sent Perkins to Oklahoma City, the Thunder trimmed a tiny bit of cap space (a little more than $1 million), which gave them just enough additional wiggle room to help hammer out a contract extension. With Boston over the salary cap, the team couldn’t offer more than $22 million over four years, while Oklahoma City was able to use that sliver of cap space to offer Perkins as much as $13 million more on a four-year deal.

So the Thunder signed Perkins for $9 million a season, which is about the going rate for a starting center. Perkins is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centers in the league, and on-court/off-court numbers at 82games support that. OKC obviously believes he will be good addition to their core of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. One knock on the Thunder is that they aren’t tough enough, and the seasoned Perkins will definitely help in that area.

I highlighted the bit about Boston because it’s a little misleading the way it’s written. It’s not that the Celtics couldn’t offer Perkins a bigger deal, they could, they just elected not to. With a soft cap, a NBA team can re-sign its own players for whatever the two sides can agree on. The Celtics made a financial decision to trade Perkins away because they knew they weren’t going to pay him when his deal was up after the season.

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Late trades punctuate crazy trade deadline

The trade deadline ended at 3 PM ET Thursday, but that doesn’t mean the news of just-completed trades is going to stop coming in. Here are a few deadline deals that broke just before or after the league cutoff.

Blazers acquire Gerald Wallace. (Ken Berger, CBSSports.com)
The Bobcats get Dante Cunningham, Joel Przybilla and two first round picks. Since Przybilla’s deal is expiring, this is a salary dump for Charlotte. They’ll come away with Cunningham and two first rounders out of the deal. Wallace can play either forward spot, so he could play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum if the Blazers want to play small ball.

Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins to OKC for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. (Adrian Wojnarowski, Y! Sports)
Interesting trade for the Thunder, who are going to have trouble shooting the ball if they start Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha. They’ll have plenty of size down low and appear to be gearing up for a potential matchup with the Lakers and/or Spurs. Perkins is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centers in the league and Ibaka is no slouch either. The C’s must feel like they have plenty of size with Shaq and Glen Davis, who usually finishes games for Doc Rivers. Green will back up Paul Pierce and/or Kevin Garnett. Krstic is a serviceable center as well, and there are rumors that Boston will be looking to add Troy Murphy if he clears waivers.

Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic. (Marc Stein, ESPN)
Brooks was thought to be a cornerstone of Houston’s youth movement, but one temper tantrum and one suspension later and he’s on his way to the Suns for Dragic, who was thought to be the point guard of the future in Phoenix once Steve Nash moved on. But Dragic’s three-point shot has disappeared (28% this year after 39% last season) and his numbers are down as a result. If he gets back to form, the 24-year-old could be a steal — and the Rockets got a first round pick to boot.

Rockets send Shane Battier to Memphis for Hasheem Thabeet. (Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports)
The Rockets get another first round pick as part of this deal. Thabeet isn’t ready for prime time, but maybe the Rockets still see potential in him. Battier’s contract is expiring and he obviously wasn’t in Houston’s long-term plans so they got what they could for him. The first round pick should be useful, even if Thabeet is not.

In another trade that “almost-was,” O.J. Mayo was going to be moved to the Pacers for Josh McRoberts and a first round pick, but the NBA didn’t receive the fax in time, so the trade was nullified. Insert Michael Heisley joke here.

C’s in trouble without Perkins?

Neil Paine of Basketball Reference thinks so…

We can really illustrate Perkins’ hidden importance by looking at the Plus/Minus numbers. When Perkins was on the court for Boston this season, the Celtics outscored their opponents by 7.2 points per 100 possessions; when he wasn’t playing, that number was only +0.2, a difference of -7 pts/100 poss.

Meanwhile, Perkins’ Game 7 replacements, Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, don’t fare nearly as well by the WOWOY metrics. Despite Davis’ heroics in Game 4, he and Wallace have been Boston’s two worst players by net on/off rating during the playoffs. Wallace has been particularly toxic for the Celtics all season — the team played 5 pts/100 poss. worse when he was on the floor, as evidenced by his recurring appearance in the Celts’ worst lineup combinations. Davis & Wallace look better by the 4-year WOWOY regression (Davis is +1.36, Wallace is +0.47), but neither has the ability to positively impact the game the way Perkins does. Without his presence, and playing on the road (home teams win Game 7 80% of the time), the Celtics appear to be in dire straits tonight.

Numbers aside, I tend to agree with Paine from a qualitative point of view. Kendrick Perkins is a really good post defender, better than Rasheed Wallace and much better than Glenn Davis. He is not the offensive player that either of those guys are, but when you’re part of a unit that includes the Big 3 and Rajon Rondo, you don’t have to be.

Wallace has played some good post defense in these playoffs, but he tends to get into foul trouble, and that’s bad news for tonight, when the Celtics are so painfully thin on the front line. His three point range can stretch the defense, but he’s shooting 26% in the Finals and 35% in the postseason, so it’s not like his defender can’t help off of him. The Celtics need a 15/10 kind of a night from ‘Sheed if they hope to win Game 7.

If he gets into early foul trouble and Boston is forced to play Shelden Williams major minutes, the Celtics will be in major trouble.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Were the Celtics’ technicals justified?

There has been much discussion about the three technicals called on Kendrick Perkins (2) and Rajon Rondo (1) in Game 5 of the Magic/Celtics series. Here are my thoughts on each one:

1. Perkins elbows Gortat.
It looked to me like Gortat was checking on Pierce who took a hard fall and Perkins felt the need to throw a little elbow into Gortat’s chest. Gortat also deserved a technical for knocking the ball out of Perkins’ hand after the elbow. There’s no need for any after-the-whistle shenanigans, and Perkins lost some credibility with the officials when he said that he “didn’t do anything.” Yeah, right. Verdict: Justified

2. Perkins upset after a foul call. (1:10 mark)
I thought the foul call was iffy, and Eddie Rush compounded the problem by overreacting to Perkins’ overreaction. I think officials should give a little more leeway to a player after a close call like the one in question. That said, Perkins wouldn’t have been called for a “T” had he handled the call better. Verdict: Unjustified

3. Rondo called for a technical. (3:00 mark)
First of all, Rondo was dead wrong on the call. Jameer Nelson’s feet were outside of the restricted area, though the video doesn’t show it. He continued to complain through the timeout and tried to get the attention of the official who made the call. An always emotional Joey Crawford stepped in and told Rondo to go to his bench and gave him a warning. Rondo said something — we don’t know what — and that’s what led to the technical. Since we don’t know what he said, we don’t know for sure if the technical was justified, but Rondo needs to understand his audience. Joey Crawford once tossed Tim Duncan out for laughing on the sidelines, so everyone knows he has a short fuse. Don’t mess with him by continuing to talk to him after he’s already given you a warning to go to your bench. If Rondo hadn’t said anything over his shoulder, he wouldn’t have gotten the technical. Verdict: Justified

Note: I don’t really care who wins this series, so I consider myself an objective observer. I do feel that there is too much complaining to officials during NBA games and it needs to be curtailed. As for Crawford and Rush “having it in” for the Celtics, I don’t buy it. Two technicals were called on Orlando as well (Gortat, Matt Barnes).

Kendrick Perkins will play in Game 6

The Boston Celtics are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief, as Kendrick Perkins will be eligible to play in Game 6. One of the two technicals he received in Game 5 was rescinded, so the seventh-year center will be in the C’s starting lineup as usual. NBC Sports comments:

We have no idea how the league decided which technical to rescind, as both appeared to be pretty bad calls. This is obviously great news for the Celtics, who are still going to have to deal with injuries to Rasheed Wallace and Glen Davis, as well as worry about Perkins picking up another tech or two in Game 6.

If Perkins does pick up another technical and it’s not rescinded, then he will be suspended for the following game, so he has to be careful.

This is a symptom of a bigger problem in the NBA — the constant complaining. Some players spend more time barking at the refs than they do focusing on the game, and every time a call doesn’t go their way, they react like a petulant two-year old.

Getting all pissed off and complaining about a call doesn’t do anyone any good. The official isn’t going to change his call and an emotional response is only going to end badly. Basketball is an emotional game and the amount of pressure is immense, but players have to learn to keep their composure. If they have a problem with a call, they need to go over to the ref in a calm manner (after he’s spoken with the scorer’s table) and ask him what he saw. Most officials will explain the call when addressed in this way.

Officials are human too, and they don’t need their calls constantly questioned. And they certainly don’t need to be shown up by grown men throwing temper tantrums every time a call doesn’t go their way.

That said, Perkins did walk away on his second technical, and he should be allowed to vent some frustration as long as it’s not directed at the official in question.

From a series standpoint, this news is big for the Celtics, who desperately need Perkins to defend Dwight Howard down low. He’s strong enough to keep Howard out of the lane and often forces Orlando’s superstar into long, contested shots from the post.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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