San Antonio guard Tony Parker drove the lane Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Nick Collison delivered a moderately hard foul and all kinds of brimstone ensued.
Parker took umbrage, Spurs teammate Antonio McDyess shoved Collison, and Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan received off-setting superstar technicals.
Hey, Tony. You thought that was a hard foul? Wait til the next time you enter Thunder paint, which could come this May in the Western Conference playoffs.
Gran Torino is coming to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder traded Thursday for Boston strongman Kendrick Perkins, the NBA's Clint Eastwood. Get off my lawn. Stay out of my lane.
Same effect. The not-so-jolly green giant is going from Boston to Boomtown, and the message is clear. A Thunder franchise that has preached long-term, long-term, long-term suddenly stands on its porch with a dead-aim gaze that says the future is now.
Oh, for sure, Thunder mastermind Sam Presti wants to sign Perkins to a new contract. Wants to make him a permanent part of the Thunder landscape.
But that's for a day beyond this post-season and the next collective bargaining agreement. The Celtics likely traded Perkins because they couldn't afford to re-sign him. We'll see if the Thunder, in good shape with the payroll cap, can figure out a way to get it done.
Until then, this day was about upgrading the roster for the 2011 playoffs, when defense reigns, without mortgaging the future.
The only way the Thunder wins the NBA title this season is if they just traded for Bill Russell in his prime. Teams built around 22-year-olds (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and 21-year-olds (James Harden, Serge Ibaka) don't win titles.
But the Thunder now can go deeper than before. Now can gain more and more of the needed playoff experience so that when championship opportunity arrives, the Thunder is ready.
Perkins also will accelerate the development of Harden and Ibaka, whose roles now will increase, particularly offensively. Win or lose this spring, Harden and Ibaka are going to come out of these playoffs with more hair on their chest and scars on their brow.
Green's versatility and professionalism, uncommon for a 24-year-old, will be missed. But you've got to give up good to get good.
Big guys who can play are hard to find. Big guys who fit your concept, even harder. Perkins fits what Presti likes to call the Thunder's DNA. Hard-working, defensive-minded, tough.
With the 6-foot-10 Perkins, the Thunder gets tougher and meaner and nastier. He's a 26-year-old, 280-pound space eater who can defend the post as well as most anyone in the NBA. Perkins' defense helped the Celtics beat the Lakers for the 2008 NBA title, and Boston would have done the same last June had Perkins' knee not blown in Game 6 of the Finals.
Truth is, Presti long has craved Perkins. When Presti drafted Cole Aldrich out of Kansas last June, a Thunder official told me the thinking.
What the Thunder could use is a Kendrick Perkins. But they cost too much money. Thus the most prudent move is develop your own. Thus, Aldrich.
But now, the Thunder has the original for the 2011 playoffs, if not beyond. Stay off his lawn.