Kevin Garnett was very outspoken about how upset he and his teammates were when the Boston Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic last month. However, Garnett is starting to change his mind about the deal.
Green and Krstic have been contributors and Boston has also added Troy Murphy and Sasha Pavlovic in recent days. The Celtics have won five games in a row and now lead the Eastern Conference by 2.5 games over the Bulls.
"Jeff is probably one of the most versatile guys I've been around," Garnett said. "It just looks like he does things effortlessly. He just makes it look simple. I can't really put him into words right now. I'm glad he's an addition to our team. I've got my own personal feelings about Perk because he's my brother, but I'm embracing this new relationship with Jeff and Kris. Kris is very versatile. I didn't know he was that good of an offensive rebounder. He's very active. I've just got to learn the small things about them, about what they like to do. I'm pretty sure we're going to be OK with those guys. They're fitting right in. So far, so good."
Another one of the Celtics' big three, Paul Pierce, also likes the way the trade is working out.
"I'm definitely looking at the upside," said Pierce. "It's definitely going to make us a more versatile team offensively. You know, at times we go into offensive droughts--which we shouldn't--but I think these are really going to help us in that department because of the way Krstic spreads the floor and Green is such a matchup problem. He's a lot quicker than fours, and when he's out there with me, the two-guard has to guard one of us, so one of us is going to have a post-up. It's going to take some time to develop, but I'm excited about the potential moving forward with this group."
Ray Allen, the third member of the Celtics' veteran triumvirate, is also giving his seal of approval.
"I'm happy," he said. "I'm great. We know we can get better. There's some things we need to do with the young guys and the new guys. But I'm excited because there's no complacency. It's not like we're here peaking. We know we're not as good as we should be, and we're going to get better. I don't envy Doc (Rivers), but at the same time I do because he's got a lot to figure out with how make these pieces move. But we've got some great pieces to work with."
Prokhorov Counting on Williams Staying
New JerseyNets owner Mikhail Prohkorov has been trying to acquire a face of the franchise ever since purchasing the team last season. He made unsuccessful runs at LeBron James last summer and Carmelo Anthony last month.
Now, Prokhorov is hoping that point guard Deron Williams, acquired in a surprising trade with the Utah Jazz last month, will want to lead the Nets into their new arena in Brooklyn. Prokhorov flew to San Antonio from British Columbia to attend Williams' Nets debut and spent considerable time with him last weekend in London when New Jersey and the Toronto Raptors played the first two regular-season NBA games in Europe.
Williams can opt out of his contract after next season. The move would come with some risk, though, as he would be forfeiting his $17.7 million guaranteed salary for the 2012-13 season in hopes of a better deal. After watching Williams post double-doubles in each of his first five games following the trade, there is a little wonder the Nets want to keep him for the long haul.
"He's basically a triple-double type of a threat," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "As he continues to get comfortable, you'll even see him score more than what he's doing."
"It all kind of starts with Deron," teammate Anthony Morrow said. "He came in with the mentality he was going to make everybody better. He makes everybody's job easier, and everybody is playing hard, buying into the system."
It will be interesting to see how the Raptors and Nets recover after playing the two games in London. What the NBA most wants to see if there is any long-term impact of fatigue or jetlag as the league continues to seriously putting a franchise in Europe.
New Jersey and Toronto played five time zones away from home on back-to-back days. Both had daylong flights Sunday and practiced Monday. They will practice again Tuesday before playing home games Wednesday night as the Raptors face the Jazz and the Nets meet the Warriors.
Neither Toronto nor New Jersey is in the playoff hunt. Nevertheless, league officials will be keeping a close eye on both teams for the remainder of the season to see how they finish.
"What we wanted to do was support a league initiative first and foremost," Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo said. "They asked us to be part of something that was a new experience and an experiment of sorts, and so far, so good."
Indiana's Playoff Push Slumping
The Indiana Pacers currently hold the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as they are in eighth place, 1.5 games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats. However, it doesn't seem like the Pacers are making a playoff push as they have lost their last three games by an average margin of 17 points.
"It's obvious things aren't the same around here," guard A.J. Price said. "Things just aren't the same as a couple of weeks ago. If we're going to make the playoffs, we need to find it and find it fast. It's on us right now. That's the only thing it comes down to."
There were reportedly several locker room arguments following last Saturday night's 112-95 road loss to the Rockets.
"We're just not getting it done," interim coach Frank Vogel said. "I'm not doing a good enough job coaching this team, and our players are not doing a good enough job coming ready to play."
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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