May 16, 2011, 12:03 PM EDT
The moment the trade of Kendrick Perkins went through, you knew this is how it would go down — when the Celtics fell out of the playoffs the trade was going to be blamed. Danny Ainge was going to get blamed.
Throw in an early second round exit and you have Ainge getting a lot of heat.
But he still defends the trade.
“I don’t think that the presence of one player standing in the middle of the paint was going to [help] our offense score more, wasn’t going to prevent LeBron James from shooting step-back 3-point jump shots with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green draped all over him,” Ainge told Comcast SportsNet’s Greg Dickerson in a one-on-one interview.
“I mean, we scored zero points with four or five minutes to go in two games. That was not because of who we had playing center. That had a lot more to do with our best players not being able to score.”
And please don’t tell him the Celtics lost their toughness when they lost Perkins.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. We lose our toughness because we trade one player?” he said. “What do you think Kevin Garnett feels about that? What do you think Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo [feel about that]? Like, we only have one guy that’s a tough player, that brings an element of toughness?”
Ainge is right. Kind of. Having Perkins in house would not have given the Celtics the offense in the paint they lacked against the Heat. Perkins alone could not have swung that series.
But an implied part of the Perkins trade was putting all their eggs in the Shaquille O’Neal basket. And that proved to be the real issue. The Shaq from November might have made a difference in this series, but the fact he never came close and there was no good backup plan can be put on Ainge. Unless you consider Jermaine O’Neal a good backup plan. Sure, nobody expected Shaq to be out that long. But Shaq was supposed to be the Plan B when he was signed and when he became Plan A there came with that big risks.
And remember you may get Shaq back — Shaq has a player option for next season. He can pick it up and return and there is nothing you can do about it. That is on Ainge, too.
Ainge admits the trade didn’t work out. But he is right the trade was not the reason the Celtics lost to the Heat, at least not that alone.
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