- Chris Forsberg, Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said his team would not have made a trade if it didn't make the club better, which is what he thinks Thursday's addition of point guard Nate Robinson does.
The Celtics also sent J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker to the Knicks and acquired Marcus Landry. The Knicks also swung an earlier deal with the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets that netted them Tracy McGrady.
Robinson was not in Los Angeles on Thursday night for the Celtics' game against the Lakers.
Robinson replaces a key member of Boston's 2007-08 championship squad, but Rivers said he likes what Robinson can add to his team as it prepares for another postseason run.
"I'd have been fine if we hadn't [made a move]," said Rivers. "I think if we could improve this team, I wanted to do it. And I think bringing Nate in does that.
"I like this team when we're in the whole. We haven't played with a great rhythm the last 20 games, I get that. That's fine. Whoever jumped off the bandwagon, stay off. I like this team. I've said it over and over again. I don't think we needed to make a lot of changes -- and we didn't -- so we'll see if that was the right decision."
Rivers said he talked to Robinson Thursday and told him what would be expected of the fifth-year guard, who figures to serve as the backup point guard behind Rajon Rondo, but also provide some of the scoring flare he was known for in New York.
"It went well, but it was more one-sided with me talking and him just sucking up for minutes," joked Rivers. "It went well. He asked a lot of good questions about the defense, his role, all that stuff. I can't wait to get him here and get to work with him."
"Nate is one of the great athletes in the league and he brings a dynamic scorer to our team," said Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations. "We have been seeking a second ball-handler capable of penetrating the defense and we believe that he provides that. We love Nate's ability to pressure the ball defensively and we think he can add to our defense as well as our offense."
When exactly will Robinson join the Celtics? Rivers cautioned against expecting him to be in Portland Friday night, but acknowledged the team needs bodies.
"I don't know if he'll be here [Friday]. With physicals and all that stuff, it would be great, but I doubt it."
Inside the Celtics' locker room, the loss of House sent ripples through a tight-knit group. The final time most players saw House was on the team bus following practice Wednesday.
But the players also acknowledged that this is a business and they couldn't blame management for making a move in hopes of making Boston a championship contender -- even if Robinson's biggest impact could be simply shaking up a stagnant group.
"We're sad to see Eddie go because he's a brother of ours," said Ray Allen. "We won a championship together, so we're forever connected. He's a good dude and an integral part of the team. My heart goes out to him. He really wanted to be here to help us do what we're trying to do and win a championship this year. But it's a business.
"Nate Robinson is a part of this team now. We're going to try to incorporate him into what we're doing, how we think, how we do things around here, make sure he fits in and make him feel like he's a part of winning a championship."
Allen said he knew Robinson from his time with the Seattle Sonics (Robinson is from Seattle and played collegiately at Washington) and thinks his addition will help.
"Playing against him, and playing with him while he was in college in Seattle, I've known him for a while," said Allen. "He's a good kid. I believe he can help us. I think this year he's grown, even from where he was before. I look forward to getting him here."
But does Robinson make the Celtics better?
"On paper, it's hard to say," said Allen. "Him being as lively and as athletic as he is, I think, as a team, we become more energetic in the second unit. He plays great defense on the ball, he's athletic, and he can shoot the 3 -- not as good as Eddie, but there's not many people in the league that can shoot the ball as good as Eddie. We have to do a good job to make sure we make [Robinson] better."
The Celtics-Knicks deal had been rumored for the last day or so but was complicated by the fact the salaries didn't match for a straight up player-for-player trade. House is making $2.86 million in the final year of his contract. Robinson is a base-year compensation player, meaning only about $2 million of his $4 million salary this season could be counted in any trade.
Robinson relayed a farewell message to Knicks fans via his Twitter account on Thursday: "Love yall for the support over the years, since my rookie year my fans have made it EZ 4 me to LOVE NYC the best place on earth ..."
House expressed excitement Wednesday about potentially reconnecting with Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, whom he played for in Phoenix.
"That helps a lot," House said. "I know the coaching staff, I know the system, I know the plays they run. I know my style fits right in. I'm feeling good right now about the way I'm playing. It's going to be a good thing. You have to take it like that.
House was a fan favorite for his high energy and perimeter shooting, but he has struggled this season, connecting on 64 of 167 3-pointers (40.1 percent) through 50 games.
Robinson, a first-round pick (21st overall) of the Phoenix Suns in the 2005 draft, has spent his entire five-year career with the Knicks. The point guard is averaging 13.2 points and 3.7 assists per game this season, but has appeared in only 30 contests after falling out of favor in New York. He was held out of Wednesday night's game with flu-like symptoms.
A three-time slam dunk contest champion, Robinson will be expected to provide a different sort of offensive outburst than House off the bench, but he's also a high-energy guy and, while designated a point guard, he's known more for scoring the ball than distributing it.
Giddens, a former first-round pick (30th overall), and Walker, chosen in the second round (47th overall), were end-of-the-bench players used sparingly in Rivers' hermetic rotation. Giddens appeared in 21 games this season (27 for his career), including one start, scoring a total of 24 points. Walker appeared in eight games this season (37 for his career), scoring only eight points.
ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan contributed to this report. Material from ESPN.com news services was used.
The Celtics acquired Nate Robinson in a five-player trade with the Knicks that sends Eddie House to New York.