The passing game is a key component of a successful offense for any franchise in the NBA. The elite teams in the Association have mastered the art which allows them to go inside for high percentage shots rather than settling for shooting outside. However make no mistake about it; one pass too many can be just as devastating to a team as they can end up throwing the ball out of bounds or into the hands of their opponents. When it comes to building a team in the NBA the same principle applies as sometimes by making a move you can throw off the whole balance of your squad.
Less than a week after being eliminated from the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that his team may have made that one pass too may earlier in the season. “ESPN.com” has reported that Rivers appearing as a guest on Boston sports radio “WEEI” Monday, said that the Celtics may have hurt their chances of advancing further in the Post Season by trading center Kendrick Perkins to the Oklahoma City Thunder in February. Perkins and guard Nate Robinson were sent to the Thunder in exchange for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic.
The Celtics head coach who just signed a five-year contract extension with the team told the radio station that he believes the timing of the trade may have been a huge detriment to the franchise. Rivers said “I would wait until after the year was over. I’ll put it that way. I do think Jeff Green has a chance to be a starter for us in the future and a hell of a basketball player, and Krstic can help, but making that trade at the time we made that trade, that made it very tough for us. And not only that, we added other pieces as well that we tried to fit in, so it was just a lot of moving parts to a team that the advantage that we had was that we had continuity, everybody else was new. Chicago was new and the Heat were new. They couldn’t fall back on what we could fall back on with our starting five, and once we made that trade, we took that advantage away.”
The Boston bench boss told the station that the main problem with making the deal is when they did was not altering the chemistry on the club as much it was getting all the players on the same page. Rivers said “Well, it was more not that the trust went away, the know-how went away, the continuity went away. That’s what the trade affected more than anything. Obviously (Perkins) was great to our team and all of that, but it was more that you had new guys playing different positions and you had a floor guy who could literally reach back into a playbook and throw out something that was three or four years old and they all knew it, when Perk was there. When you lose Perk, you take that one guy out of that starting lineup. Now there’s the fifth guy who doesn’t know your offense three years ago. He only knows what he knows since he’s been there, and that limited our group. With Rondo, because the way teams guard him, you need a massive playbook and that took more away from it than we thought.”
At the time the trade was consummated I understood the reasoning behind the Celtics making the deal. They thought that they would not be able to come to terms with Perkins this summer as he was due to become a free agent and wanted value in return. However I expressed my reservations on the move at the time as I believed that with Perkins the Celtics had a very good shot of winning next month’s NBA Finals.
We will never know what would have happened if Boston had kept their roster in tact. However this may have been a case where that one pass too many derailed the season of the Boston Celtics.