Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How Perkins trade to OKC could have changed everything

Three years ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Kendrick Perkins from the Celtics in a package that sent Jeff Green to Boston. At the time, the Celtics needed a wing player who could score and relieve Paul Pierce before and during the playoffs. But according to Celtics radio broadcaster Sean Grande, Jeff Green wasn't the player who Danny Ainge was seeking.

Turns out Oklahoma City were talking to the Celtics about trading James Harden instead of Green. Harden, who was still on his rookie contract, was on the verge of his breakout season at the time.

He averaged just one point more than Green that season (16) and was nearly dealt to Boston before the trade deadline.

In 2011, on Bill Simmons' podcast, Grande said Oklahoma City's General Manager Sam Presti convinced Danny Ainge to take Green instead.

If Harden was traded instead of Green, things would be a lot different for the Celtics. There's a good chance Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would all still be in town. And we would be watching them make another run in this year's playoffs, maybe the last run, but another run at a championship.

Think about it.

The season after Perkins was traded, James Harden became the James Harden he is today. He averaged 25.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists throughout the 2011-2012 season. Celtics were one win away from knocking off Miami in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Can you imagine if Harden was on that team alongside Pierce, Garnett, Rondo and Ray Allen (or O.J. Mayo, since Ainge hypothetically has Harden he probably would have traded Allen when he had the chance). I'm no physic but I picture Celtics knocking off Harden's former team in the Finals and another banner hanging from TD Garden.

If Celtics could have signed Harden to another contract after the 2012 season, they would have had no reason to rebuild. Harden, a top five scorer in the league is someone Rivers could run his offense through and wouldn't have so much pressure weighing down their veterans like Pierce and Garnett.

The Brooklyn Nets begin its series versus the Miami Heat tonight, possibly Pierce and Garnett's last chance to knock off the defending champion in pursuit for another ring.

Josue Pavon

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