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Did Danny Ainge cost the Celtics this championship? No.

May 12, 2011, 10:54 AM EDT

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

It’s an obvious and easy target. A changing point in the Celtics season.

Back at the start of February, the Celtics were 37-11, the top seed in the East, three games ahead of Miami, three-and-a-half ahead of the Chicago Bulls. They were title contenders. They had gotten Kendrick Perkins back in the lineup and Shaquille O’Neal had just stepped out with a little hip issue but he was going to be back in a week or so.

Then of Feb. 24, Celtics GM Danny Ainge shocked everyone by changing the Celtics core, trading center Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City (along with Nate Robinson) for reserve forward Jeff Green.

The Celtics finished the third seed in the East. They never got Shaq back (not in a meaningful way) and ended up bounced in the second round of the playoffs. It felt like they were never the same after the trade.

Did Danny Ainge do that? Did the Kendrick Perkins trade change the Celtics into also-rans? There are Celtics fans out there calling for Danny Ainge’s head over this move and what they perceive it costs the Celtics.

Those people are wrong. This isn’t on Ainge.

Kendrick Perkins would not have changed this series.

Perkins brings some defense to the table — he can defend traditional big men very well in the post (if you can step away from the basket, like Zach Randolph, it’s a different story). He’s also makes good help rotations and can clog the paint, slowing penetration.

He provides no offense inside — and that is what the Celtics missed most this series. They missed the Shaq from the first half of this season (who Ainge and Rivers and the Celtics doctors expected would be back). They needed a threat inside that balanced out the offense outside. They needed to punish the Heat for playing Joel Anthony. The Celtics offense hummed when Shaq was scoring (or was a threat to score) in the paint, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were getting better looks. Rajon Rondo had more room to operate.

Perkins fixes none of that.

What’s more, the small lineup the Heat had success with would have forced Doc Rivers to bench Perkins for the key stretches of games anyway. The only way to offset that small lineup was a big man who could score in the paint to make them pay for it, and Perkins does not do that.

Maybe he makes some hard fouls on penetration, but that is not slowing the attack of Dwyane Wade or LeBron James. And both of them did serious damage with jump shots anyway.

Besides, when the trade went down we kept hearing about how Jeff Green was the kind of athletic wing player the Celtics really needed off the bench, especially after Marquis Daniels went down. (By the way, what you saw with Jeff Green this season is what you get, don’t expect a leap forward. Ask Thunder fans about it.)

I said at the time I didn’t like the Perkins trade, and you can wonder ho the team would be different with him, but it is not what cost the Celtics this series. This is not all on Ainge.

  1. bleedhouse - May 12, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Are you kidding me?
    Of course perkins would have made a difference!
    How about that game where Joel Anthony went off! Mostly every game was close and every little point Miami made was big and if Perkins could have stopped some of them you may be looking at a different series.

  2. zrbk - May 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    True. The 37-11 record had basically nothing to do with Perk. Shaq before February was simply amazing. He could have changed this series if he was healthy enough to stand still in the paint. Probably the only effect the trade had on the team is spiritual. It broke up the bond, sort of messed up the identity of the team, and made the Celtics feel less confident about themselves.

  3. aboogy123456 - May 12, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    Kurt you are horrible, Jeff Green is in his fourth year only and it’s unfair to say that he won’t make a leap forward. How would you or the thunder fans know that? I hope he does make a leap forward and become a more confident and better player just to shut you up.

    Also I agree with the idea of your article, but you are missing a huge point, which is that the celtics were the number one team in the east and they were playing great, WITHOUT Perkins, so the trade itself shouldn’t have been a reason for their slump.

  4. torotrigger - May 12, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Jeff Green’s game got better every week after the trade – i cant imagine its easy to come from playing lion’s share of starting minutes on a rookie team to coming off the bench and being the 6th option on a championship team.

    Ainge did break the chemistry, but with 4 all-star vets and great coach they shouldve and did make the proper adjustments – green is going to pay off for years with a decline in minutes from the big-3, delonte west too. i think long runs into the playoffs the last 3 years hurt the celtics and theyll be back and better next year without perk.

    also the conspiracy theorist in me thinks part of that trade had to do with making the OKC better and a tougher matchup against the lakeshow and west since there is no real tough bigman out there any longer…but thats just me

  5. bigdak - May 12, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    You are forgetting about team chemistry. Why the hell do you think it took the heat so long to play solid basketball?? The C’s were all about team chemistry and Danny Ainge broke that up. Not to mention he traded a solid starting center (which is rare) for a bench player. Even if Jeff Green was great he was never gonna get 35 minutes a game since he plays the same position as Pierce, Allen, and Garnett. I said it when he made the trade and I stand by it, Danny Ainge ruined any chance the C’s had of winning any titles anytime soon.

  6. rajbais - May 12, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    Helin, he did cost them the titles!!!

    Going against common sense will!!!

    If common sense was … nonsense, why is Isiah Thomas no longer the GM in New York???

  7. BC - May 12, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Doc Rivers cost them the series. It could and should be 3-2 Boston right now. He didn’t yank Rondo quick enough in the last two games – you have Delonte West, use him more – and left a 13 to 15 point scorer with some size (Troy Murphy) stapled to the bench. Pierce looked like he was going to collapse in the 4th quarter last night. Rivers burned the Big Three to the ground.

  8. trueballs - May 12, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    I really think Perkins would have changed the game, but I think Boston still would have lost in 7. The Celtics interior defense was a big reason Wade and LeBron dominated. BUT the trade was necessary because of the injury to Marquis Daniels. There’s no way the Celtics would have won the series if Pierce didn’t have a legitimate backup. And with the depth that they at the center position I can see why they made that move. No Tony Allen, no Marquis, no Posey, no perimeter stoppers..

  9. ricofoy - May 12, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Where does NBC find these hacks?

  10. cookie2117 - May 12, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    U dumbass this is all on ainge

  11. ferrari458 - May 12, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    .The trade in which Perkins was involved, represented an intentional decision to accept less than Perkins’ full value for this year. Perkins, on one hand, was worth more than Green + Kristic, on the other, and that difference may be expressed by the value of the future consideration received, a first round (lottery) draft pick. Two respected GM’s, Ainge and Presti, so agreed.

    As the rumors go, Danny Ainge believed that Perkins injuries had slowed him or that he was no longer of sufficient value, or that the Celtics could not resign him. All may be valid reasons to make a trade. The question is what trade? Why, with an aging, but still extremely competitive, team would one choose a trade where the Celtics receive less than current fair value? Was there no other player available of equal current value, who could make a positve impact in the 2011 season?

  12. ferrari458 - May 12, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Ubantu is very hard to sustain, both emotionally and strategically, if players perceive that management has sold them out. No veteran team wants a Perkins-like trade, where the present (Perkins) is not only given up, but given up in favor of their own replacement (1st round draft choice)! Perhaps that, and the lack of inside presence on the offensive end which resulted from the Trade, helps to explain the Celtics woes.

    LA is going to try and land Dwight Howard. The only explanation I see for the Perkins trade is that Danny Ainge has his eye on Howard or another top tier player. Otherwise, for the reasons below, it makes no sense.

    Green + Kristic do not = Perkins. That much is clear, as the trade also involved a 1st round choice, and the value of the 1st round choice is by its nature a future consideration and cannot be expected to have a positive impact this year. The difference in the value of Green + Kristic versus Perkins can be expressed by the value of a first round draft choice. Two respected GM’s, Danny Ainge and Sam Presti, so agreed.

    With the impending labor strife, some better players are not coming out in next year’s college draft. So, the draft pick may have even less value than in other years. However, I do not think Danny Ainge is anyone’s fool; he must have his eye on the next move in the chess game, as he has clearly, to some extent, forsaken this year for next.

    As much as I dislike the Perkins trade (a whole h^%* of a lot), it cannot be judged until we hear the other shoe drop. If the sound of that shoe is not resounding, then Danny Ainge has made a foolish trade, as I think he did. And it matters not a wit how Perkins plays for Okahoma. What matters is how he played for the Celtics, and he was a perfect complement for the Big Four.

  13. j0esixpack - May 12, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    Celtics fans are smart. They know with or without Perkins the team had flaws and was unlikely to win the title this year.

    We can live with the fact that the better team won – though the “better team” in this series is flawed as well.

    Not all Miami fans seem to realize that.

  14. bc666 - May 13, 2011 at 1:06 AM

    At the time of the trades the Celts had the best record in the East, they were playing great ball without Perkins and had great chemistry together. Trading Perkins who is a solid defender in the middle was a huge mistake. At the time of the trade I told a friend of mine that Ainge was going to have to rely on both O’Neils……Shaq and Jermaine to stay healthy and produce throughout the second half of the season and in to the playoffs? Well we all saw what happend. Shaq was a no show for the rest of the season, Jermaine was a bum and they had nothing in the middle. Jeff Green never got things going and Troy Murphy never played. This second round bounce is all the fault of Ainge. He reuined team chemistry and never had the right parts to fill in the dead spots.

  15. ferrari458 - May 13, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    The Dice As Rolled Showed Snake Eyes — An oversimplification some have made is in simply accepting or criticizing the Perkins trade rather than evaluating that trade against other options. Yes, Perkins could and I think should have been kept. Nevertheless, he was not. The next and now more important question is was this the right trade? And the answer in part depends on whether you are looking to next year or this past year. If it was this year to which you are looking, and I suggest it should have been, then we can already evaluate the trade: Extremely Poor.

    It should be no surprise. Perkins was far more valuable than Green and Kristic. Everyone involved, Ainge and Presti, agreed. Do you disagree? I don’t. The two GM’s agreed that the value of the difference between Perkins, on one hand, and Green and Kristic, on the other, was a lottery pick in next year’s draft. While you may or may not agree with the two GM’s you cannot disagree that is how they came out.

    Does anyone really think this lottery pick was “icing on the cake”. In my opinion, one should not underestimate the value of a lottery pick. It is extremely valuable.

    My question is: if the Perkins trade were to be made why not for a SINGLE player of Equal value? Would that not have served the Celtics better both in this year’s playoffs and next year. Let’s collectively try to think like a GM, not just fans. There were other teams who were playoff bound who could have used Perkins. For whom would you realistically have traded him?

    • ferrari458 - May 17, 2011 at 4:54 PM

      The late season Celtics trades produced a 2012 first round pick from the L.A. Clippers via Oklahoma, plus cash. Why the ageing Celtics would need cash to equal out a deal which was already “future loaded”, is beyond me. Ugh!

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