Big bodies replaced big names on the final day of the NBA’s trading season.
Boston traded starting center Kendrick Perkins, while Hasheem Thabeet, Nenad Krstic, Joel Przybilla and Nazr Mohammed were some other men in the middle who were dealt Thursday before the 3 p.m. EST deadline.
Baron Davis and Gerald Wallace were among the former All-Stars who moved on a busy day that featured plenty of action but no blockbusters like the ones that landed Carmelo Anthony in New York and Deron Williams in New Jersey earlier in the week.
The Celtics traded Perkins, their starting center who had recently returned from a knee injury sustained in Game 6 of the NBA finals, along with Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green, Krstic, a future first-round draft pick and cash.
“He’s a team-first guy, plays great low-post defense,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau, a former Boston assistant, said of Perkins. “There may not be a better low-post defender in the league.”
Boston also dealt backup big man Semih Erden and reserve swingman Marquis Daniels, an active day for the team that began the night percentage points ahead of the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
They get back Green, the power forward they drafted at No. 5 in 2007 but traded to Seattle in the deal for Ray Allen. But with Perkins gone, and Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal battling injuries most of the season, interior defense is a question mark for a team that appeared to have loaded up on it this season for a potential advantage against Miami.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else was,” the Heat’s LeBron James said.
Wallace was an All-Star last season but is owed about $21 million over the next two years, so the cost-cutting Charlotte Bobcats have been shopping him. He’ll try to help the Portland Trail Blazers reach the postseason.
“He is just the sort of talent we were looking for,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said in a statement announcing the trade. “I’m sure our fans will embrace him and hopefully he can help us make some noise in the playoffs.”
Davis and an unprotected 2011 first-round draft pick went from the Los Angeles Clippers to Cleveland for Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon. Davis and Cavs coach Byron Scott clashed when they were together in New Orleans, but Scott said the point guard apologized for his past behavior before a preseason game.
“He hugged me and said, ‘I love you,’ ” Scott said. “It’s water under the bridge.”
Aaron Brooks’ tumultuous season in Houston, where he was suspended a game for leaving the court early, ended when he was dealt to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. Last year’s winner of the most improved player award will back up Steve Nash, and potentially someday replace him, with the Suns.
But the biggest of the seven deals was for a big guy. Perkins could help the Thunder against potential West playoff foes, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks.
While many teams were looking for size, Memphis gave some up with the trade of Thabeet, the No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft. He’s played sparingly and the Grizzlies decided not to wait for him to develop, moving him to bring veteran Shane Battier back to Memphis.
“It is important to us that we make the playoffs, that we do go to the playoffs,” owner Michael Heisley said. “Quite bluntly, we think that Shane at this point in time would be more productive in the short run.”
The Knicks looked around for a big man, but they lacked assets to do much after sending so much out in the three-team trade with Denver and Minnesota.
Detroit wanted to deal Richard Hamilton and the $20 million he’s guaranteed to make over the next two seasons, but it couldn’t make a win-win trade with a team that wanted the three-time All-Star and 2004 NBA champion.