The Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Kendrick Perkins just before Thursday's deadline for NBA trades to be completed. The deal, in which the Thunder gave up fourth-year forward Jeff Green, gives Oklahoma City a desperately needed defensive anchor at center. Perkins replaced Nenad Krstic, who will join the Boston Celtics' revamped frontcourt.
Perkins tore knee ligaments in the 2010 NBA Finals, and has only played in 12 games this season after spending the fall and start of winter recovering from offseason surgery. But he'd started 232 games over the previous three seasons, including the Celtics' 2008 NBA Championship campaign. On such a stacked team with the league's best defense seemingly every season, that tells you how valued Perkins was.
Despite his stature -- he's listed at 6-10, but might not be that -- Perkins typically finishes in the top 10 in the league in block percentage, and he's learned to limit his fouls. His man defense is a huge upgrade over Krstic, and will allow Nick Collison -- a fine defender in his own right -- to split power forward minutes with Serge Ibaka. The Thunder also managed to trade for Nazr Mohammed; he will play behind Perkins, leaving only minimal drop-off defensively.
Oklahoma City runs its offense through Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and they do a wonderful job. Addressing the team's defense was a priority, and Thursday's trades got the job done.