1) I love both deals. In one trade, the Thunder essentially packaged its out of position power forward (who is probably better suited as a sixth man) and its token starting center for a proven championship caliber center who can anchor its defense. In the other deal, OKC dealt spare parts for additional size, shot-blocking, experience and frontcourt depth. And the Thunder did it all without blowing up its budget in the short or long term. That about sums up the day. Yeah, the Thunder came out a huge winner.
2) I hope Perkins is healthy. The team’s medical staff already has pored over the particulars in Perkins’ history. No red flags were raised during that process, which ultimately paved the way for the Thunder to agree to the deal. Perkins must now pass a physical, and his knees will be the biggest question marks. Perk missed this season’s first 43 games after tearing the MCL and PCL in his knee in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. And he is currently sidelined for at least a week with a sprained MCL in his left knee. If even the slightest sign of something fishy appears during the physical process, we could see the Thunder rescind the deal. I highly doubt that happens. But Thunder general manager Sam Presti has proven in the past (see Tyson Chandler) that he listens to and trusts his medical staff. He’d nix this deal as well if need be. All indications, however, are that the Thunder organization believes Perkins is good to go and ready to be a cornerstone in OKC.
3) The Thunder just got tough. How many teams will want to to pick on a starting frontline of Perkins and Serge Ibaka? The answer is zero. The Thunder won’t be bullied by anyone. Not now. Not in the playoffs. For 2 1/2 seasons, the Thunder has been more of a finesse team. But both of today’s deals add more force and fire. Russell Westbrook is as tough as a point guard as you’ll find (ask Jermaine O’Neal), and Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed have much-needed meanness as well. Perk and Mohammed are a match made in heaven for the Thunder.
4) Don’t underestimate Nate Robinson. It’s easy to look at him as a throw in. Don’t. Robinson has value. And lots of it. Whether he matters in Oklahoma City, though, will all depend on Scott Brooks. If Brooks gives Robinson minutes, he could be a serious spark plug. He scores in bunches and poses problems for defenses. He might be small. But he’s quick, he’s strong and he can shoot. Robinson can also get to the rack. So forget about where he plays. What’s important is that he plays. He’s a point guard but can slide over and steal minutes at the 2 in some situations, or all0w Westbrook to move over at times. Robinson might not fit in OKC long term. But my eyes are locked strictly on this year’s postseason. A scorer like Robinson who can heat up in a hurry is never a bad thing to have coming off your bench. It’s players like Robinson who can steal a game in a series. Just go back and look at Game 4 of last year’s Finals.
5) Say hello to better defense. You’re tired of seeing it. I’m tired of writing about it. The Thunder’s defense just hasn’t been as good this year as it was last season. At least not consistently. Perkins and Ibaka could be great together. They present ideal size and a perfect blend of bulk and athleticism. Perk is an exceptional position defender. Ibaka is a great shot-blocker who’s at his best when helping off his man. Together, they should shore up the team’s D while making everyone else in front of them better. Now, the Thunder can rely less on helping the post, either on post-ups or penetration, and stay at home more on shooters. It should have a trickle down effect that leads to better 3-point defense.