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The Five: Gone, but not forgotten

5/28/2011

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Semih Erden provided key minutes at Boston's ailing center spot.The 2010-11 Celtics season was a terrific example of just how quickly things can change in the NBA. In the blink of an eye at the February trade deadline, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge orchestrated a slew of deals that altered an entire third of Boston's roster. You need not be reminded of the mixed results that came with the additions of Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic & Co., so here's a look back at five players who began the season as Celtics, but finished the campaign with other clubs:

Marquis Daniels: Daniels returned to the Celtics this past season intent on filling the role he was unable to during the 2009-10 campaign, largely due to torn ligaments in his left thumb that resulted in a 28-game absence. The results were much better the second time around, as Daniels, finally healthy for the first three months of the season, filled in behind Paul Pierce exactly the way the Celtics were hoping he'd be able to. Gliding around the court, Daniels was an accomplished scorer at times but also housed the ability to defend, rebound and feed his teammates the ball for quality looks. It was all going well until Feb. 6, when Daniels' collision with Gilbert Arenas left him with a bruised spinal cord, sadly altering his career as well as the Celtics' season. It was one of the scariest and most unfortunate injuries in recent Celtics history, and in a move that showed just how unforgiving the business side of the NBA can be, the Celtics shipped Daniels to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for a conditional 2017 second-round draft pick to clear a roster spot.

Semih Erden: Erden was, at times, a bit of a savior for the Celtics this past season, playing through a legitimate shoulder injury during the first half of the year while fellow centers Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins all spent time in street clothes. Erden appeared in 37 total games for Boston, starting in seven of those when the C's were in desperate need of a man in the middle. Most rookies don't find themselves in the position Erden did -- starting on a championship contending team alongside three (and quite possibly four) future Hall of Famers -- but the Turkey native played well enough for the Celtics to weather the storm until Shaq and Perkins returned to the lineup.

Kendrick Perkins: A combination of disbelief, shock and anger all came together in the post-Kendrick Perkins trade outcry, which helped to illustrate just how popular Perk was in this town. There was plenty to miss once Perkins headed south for Oklahoma City, and not just the on-court production that helped the Celtics win so many games during the Big Three era. Yes, gone were the illegal screens at the top of the key that prompted the everlasting, "I didn't foul him!" face and, of course, the scowl (you'd be hard pressed to find another NBA player so closely tied to any one facial expression the way Perk is tied to that bad-tempered frown of his). But it helped to make Perk, well, Perk. And, if you think about it, it was an expression that represents the way he plays the game. No matter the circumstances, Perk was always all-business, and the Celtics missed his intangibles the rest of the way.

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Nate Robinson simply never provided the spark the Celtics thought he would off the bench.Luke Harangody: Celtics fans have a strong history of adopting rookie players, and their acceptance of Harangody proved to be no exception. With his blue-collar work ethic and one of the quirkiest, most unsightly jump shots in the game today, Harangody showed, in flashes, that he can be a contributor in this league, particularly when he sets his sights on the boards. Harangody's standout performance was his 17-point, 11-rebound effort against the Toronto Raptors back on Jan. 7, and while it's always tough to watch rookie players get shipped away too early, the Cleveland Cavaliers might be a better fit for Harangody in the short term, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers is as famous for not playing his rookies and young players as he is for his excellent late-game play calling. With the Cavaliers still rebuilding, Harangody could get more time to show he can be a consistent NBA contributor.

Nate Robinson: What will we miss most about Robinson being in Boston? If you're a believer in the importance of team chemistry, then it's worth noting that Robinson was popular amongst his teammates off the court (just check out all of the training camp prank videos he posted on YouTube) and had an inner confidence that was tamper-proof. Robinson had knee surgery shortly after being traded to the Thunder, but he returned in time for the postseason, and you have to wonder if having his scoring ability would have helped the Celtics wade through some of the scoring droughts against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals that ultimately doomed their season (though Robinson never quite found a way to be a consistent scoring threat off the pine).

Greg Payne is a student intern for ESPNBoston.com