Celtics

Celtics

Danny Ainge has a pretty strong track record as a Boston Celtics executive, but he's far from perfect.

One of Ainge's bigger misses, some would argue, was his February 2011 trade of Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Perkins, a beloved figure in Boston, went on to provide veteran leadership on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook's Thunder squad that reached the 2012 NBA Finals.

Green, meanwhile, sat out the entire 2011-12 season due to a heart condition and never really stuck with the Celtics, while Krstic played just 24 games for Boston in what would be his final NBA stop.

So, does Ainge regret the deal almost a decade later?

"I do not, no," the Celtics' president of basketball operations said Thursday during his weekly interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich."

Ainge then laid out his case.

"I second-guess things, but that's not one of them," he said. "And here's why: Perkins was hurt. People keep forgetting that. Perkins had a torn ACL. He wasn't healthy, he wanted a contract extension, (and) we were not going to pay him the money just because of the payroll we had.

"And after we traded him, he ended up getting surgery again. So, he wasn't going to help us then. Nenad Kristic was actually better than Perk at that moment in time because of his health, but then he got hurt."

 

Ainge makes a fair point: Perkins was never the same after tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals, and his production dipped further in Oklahoma City from 10.1 points per game in Boston to 5.1 points per game the following season. The C's also couldn't have foreseen Green's heart issues.

But as Doc Rivers suggested about two years after the deal, the Celtics may have underestimated the edge Perkins gave them on the court, which Krstic and an aging Shaquille O'Neal couldn't duplicate. Boston never reached the NBA Finals again with the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, eventually trading Green in a deal that eventually netted them Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome and a draft pick.

Ainge admitted he liked Perkins as a player, even if the financials just didn't work out.

"I love Perk. He's one of my favorite (players)," Ainge said. "I feel like I helped raise him as a kid. He was 18 years old when we got him and I'll always be a fan, but we just didn't have -- we couldn't pay him going forward with the money we had and probably he deserved."

UPDATE (10:50 a.m. ET): Ainge had one last thing to say about Perkins after Rich Shertenlieb of "Toucher & Rich" sent him Perk's infamous "sad face" during his introduction in OKC.

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