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Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge discusses Celtics trades

02.25.11 at 11:58 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Once the news came down that the Celtics had traded Kendrick Perkins just before the deadline on Thursday, the instant reaction for most Celtics fans probably went something like this: “Wait, what? I’m sorry, WHAT?!?! What is Danny Ainge thinking?”

When they heard the Celtics president shipped Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick, and then sent Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for cash, most fans (at least the ones on Twitter) seemed to think Ainge had lost his scruples.

He didn’t. There’s proof: The full transcription of his interview with John Ryder and Paul Flannery on the Planet Mikey show Thursday night …

WHY MAKE THE PERKINS TRADE?

“We think it upgrades our team, ultimately, is the reason. You always have to give up something of value to get something of value in return. We feel that this will help our team this year and help us in the future as well.”

ARE THERE CONCERNS ABOUT PERKINS HEALTH?

“Kendrick has had some history of injuries, but he’s recovering. Nobody works harder to recover on their injury than Kendrick, and I think that Kendrick will be fine long-term. …

“Kendrick came back, and he looked good. He worked really hard to get back sooner than we even thought. He’s a great young man, but at the same time we feel like we have a lot of centers, and we have great confidence [Shaquille O'Neal] and Jermaine [O'Neal] will be healthy. And [Nenad] Krstic is probably more healthy than all of those guys at this stage.”

HOW DID THE DEAL DEVELOP?

“It’s something that we’ve discussed periodically. I have conversations throughout the year with a lot of teams, and we take some serious and throw some by the wayside. I wanted to see how our team was playing, and our team was playing great in the absence of Kendrick throughout the season. We beat Miami twice and Chicago and LA and so forth.”

WHAT DOES JEFF GREEN BRING TO THE TABLE?

“We’re really excited about the guys that we got. Jeff Green is a terrific player. As you guys know, we drafted him way back when in the Ray Allen trade, and he’s done nothing but show what kind of a versatile player he is. He’s playing 37 minutes on one of the top teams in the Western Conference as a starter. He’s 24 years old. He brings us some length and athleticism and versatility to the game. …

“Jeff was a player that we have targeted and like very much. We think that he’s just a great fit in the locker room, in the community and on the court. We think he’s a terrific player and a terrific talent, and we’re very, very excited about him coming in. …

“I think that he can play the 4, he can play the 3, he defends multiple positions, he can shoot the 3-ball, he can post up smaller guys, he’s a terrific passer and he brings length and athleticism to our team. And experience. He’s got a lot of experience as a 24-year-old. He played a lot of minutes as a rookie, and he’s averaging 16 points over the last three years. I think he brings scoring, passing, intelligence, experience, youth and energy all in one package.”

WHAT DOES NENAD KRSTIC BRING TO THE TABLE?

“We like Krstic. He’s a terrific shooter. I think he complements [Rajon] Rondo‘s game very well in that he’s just another guy who can knock down that mid-range jump shot.”

DID PERKINS’ CONTRACT SITUATION AFFECT THE DEAL?

“We did talk contract extension with Perk, although our hands were tied a little bit with the collective bargaining agreement that’s in place — what we could offer him. We offered all that we could offer him, and he wasn’t really interested in doing a contract extension, which I understand. … Last time, he didn’t test the market. This time, he really wanted to test the market and see what his value was.

“So, that was a concern, but it wasn’t so much of a concern that we would’ve done something just for that purpose, but the fact that we were able to — in our opinion — help our team for this year and protect ourselves in the future was really good for us.”

The departure of Kendrick Perkins will thrust Shaquille O'Neal even further into the limelight. (AP)

HOW HARD WAS IT TO TRADE PERKINS, THE PERSON?

“They are a very tight bunch, and I think I’m as close to Perk as any of them. I have a great relationship with him. I brought him in as an 18-year-old out of high school, and it was very difficult. We shed some tears today talking to Perk. It was tough. He’s a great kid. I think he’s going to a great situation for himself and his future. I think OKC is a top-notch franchise. They obviously have some great young players, and I think he has a bright future there. That does help make it a little bit easier.

“It’s not easy at all. We agonized over it. Both Doc [Rivers] and I agonized over it. We went back and forth. There were a few other types of things out there, and it was a very difficult decision to make, yet one that we thought was best for the team and where we’re headed.”

HOW DID HIS TEAMMATES TAKE THE NEWS?

“His teammates, I think that they will give Krstic and Green a chance to come in and show what they’re capable of doing. At the same time, there are some emotions there. They were very close, but I think in time they’ll see the benefits to our team.”

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT FRONTCOURT DEPTH?

“It was going to be tough to play all three of those guys [Perkins, Shaq and J.O.] anyway and keep them happy. Having the three of them get through the regular season is one thing, but when it comes down to playoff time there’s going to be multiple guys who don’t get a chance to play. Shaq has proven to be excellent with our starters. The numbers actually show that he’s been better with our starters.

“Like I said earlier, we’ve beat all the good teams in the league while Kendrick was out. That gives you a little bit more comfort. … Knowing that Jermaine hasn’t been right yet, he’s given us some really good defensive minutes — and defensive rebounding and shot blocking when he’s played — but he hasn’t really broke through and gotten his confidence offensively with his leg injury. He’s coming along fantastic. We think he’s going to be back.

“Shaq is probably a week away from playing. He’ll probably be able to return to the lineup even before Kendrick would with his injury that he had the other night against Golden State. We feel good about our team. Like I said, Krstic has been starting for Oklahoma City, and so he’s healthy and ready to go and should be able to play for us on Saturday.

“I think Shaq would accept his role. I think Shaq at his age, the way he’s playing, he’s played very well as a starter. I do worry a little bit about him coming off the bench. I think he’s more suited to be a starter, just because of his age and it takes him a while to get loose.”

WHAT DOES THE BUYOUT MARKET LOOK LIKE?

“We’ll wait and see. I really can’t discuss which guys we’ll try to get and buy out. We’ll just see what happens and be ready to pounce when we get notice of players that are bought out. There are players out there right now that we like a little bit. We’re not going to rush into anything.

“We signed Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract. He’s been playing very well in the D-League. He’s skinny, but he’s a long, athletic, talented kid who can maybe play some minutes for us in the next couple games.

“We’d probably like to add someone at each position. … A wing player; either a great shooter or a defender — not both. We’d also maybe like to shore up our front line, and we would possibly even look for another guard, but that’s probably the least important position right now. We have three roster spots open, and going into the playoffs we may fill all three or we may just fill two depending on who we get.”

DID PLAYOFF MATCHUPS AFFECT THIS DEAL?

“Everything we do, we have an eye on Miami and Chicago and Orlando. New York is a very strong team now. The Lakers, San Antonio. We’re aware of who our competition is to win a championship this year. There’s no question about that, and we never lose sight of that.”

WHY MAKE THE ERDEN TRADE?

“Semih’s been hurt himself. He’s been playing hurt this year, so I’m not sure how much help he’d be for us right now. He’s struggling with his health, and we really couldn’t count on him to be ready to go as the postseason came on. I thought it was important for us to shore that up and fill the roster spot with a more experienced and healthier player down the stretch.”

WHY MAKE THE DANIELS TRADE?

“I don’t know exactly what the prognosis is for Marquis. I know he’s seen a lot of doctors, and he’s taking his time trying to figure out what is ahead of him and what challenges he faces. It was looking like he might not be able to play the rest of this year, and I think the odds would suggest that. We felt like we needed to create a roster spot that ensured us that we picked up somebody. And Jeff Green can be that guy. He can back up Paul [Pierce] at the 3 position.”

DID DANIELS’ INJURY LEAD TO ALL OF THIS?

“I felt like our team was going good, playing very well. I guess once we started looking for those wing players, everything kind of transpired. It change a little bit with all of the injuries we’ve had — including the injury with Perk, and not the one that he just had the other day. I think injuries have played a part in what we’ve had to do to prepare for the postseason.”

ANY THOUGHTS ON THE CARMELO ANTHONY TRADE?

“I think they’re very good moves for those two teams. I think that the circumstances dictated that Denver needed to move him, and they were going to lose him for nothing, and so I thought that Denver did well to recover what they did.

“And New York, when you get a player of that caliber, sometimes it seems like you’re giving up a lot of players, but those players — those  special ones, those guys that are the top five scorers in the league — are difficult to come by. So, I think New York did great.

“Getting Carmelo and Chauncey Billups, I think they’re better right now. And I think Denver did their absolute best and a fantastic job of recovering from where they were.”

ANY THOUGHTS ON THE DERON WILLIAMS TRADE?

“I feel the same way about Utah. Utah knew that they were in the same boat as Denver if they don’t do something by this trade deadline. All of a sudden, summer comes along and they’re in the exact same position Denver found themselves in. So, I think that Utah recovered and got the most out of it. I know it’s not something that they want to do, but it’s something they needed to do rather than let a quality player leave your franchise with nothing in return.”

IS RONDO A MAX CONTRACT PLAYER?

“He is, yes, and I’ll tell you why. Not only is he playing at a very high level, but I think Rondo is become more and more of a leader. At that time, I didn’t think that he was the leader that we needed him to be, and I think he’s continuing to grow all the time.

“He’s really fun to watch play. He’s a great competitor, and he’s one of the top point guards in all of basketball, so I’d have to say yes he has reached that level.”

Doc Rivers & Co. felt just plain sad after the Kendrick Perkins deal. (AP)

REACTIONS FROM AROUND THE NBA

The Perkins news shocked the Celtics locker room, the NBA and fans everywhere. We’ve compiled a pretty hefty list of the reactions on the Internets …

Nate Robinson: “He’s taking it pretty hard because he’s been here eight years. He was real emotional, crying. I feel bad for him. I told him he’s not alone. ‘We’re going together. It’s not like you’ll be by yourself.’ ”

Doc Rivers: “[Perkins’ teammates] love him. Someone said before [Thursday night’s game at Denver] that it’s not personal, and I said, ‘You’re wrong, it’s very personal.’ He’s a family member and you are going to miss a family member. Just because it’s business doesn’t mean it’s not emotional.”

Kevin Garnett: “It’s a tough day to play basketball. It’s not even about a teammate. I feel like I’ve lost a family member — you’re brothers for life.”

Paul Pierce: “It’s a difficult time when you see one of your good friends and teammates go. That’s probably the most difficult thing about this business, seeing a friend and teammate go, but you have to understand it’s a business and things of that nature happen.”

Delonte West: “It’s a part of the game. I’m eight years in, so I’m not really shocked by anything. Of course, we’re sad to see one of our brothers go, a couple of our brothers go, but they’ll be all right. You’ve just got to see them around.”

Ray Allen: “I just said, ‘Sorry.’ There’s no words that can really describe the emotions that you feel. Perk is a tough guy, [but] he was very emotional. Like he couldn’t get the words out that he needed to get out. In my mind, he’ll always be a Celtic. He’s been here for eight years. I felt truly bad. That’s probably one of the toughest pills I’ve had to swallow of any player I’ve seen traded, because he was a part of what he was doing here. So we have to change that around and incorporate these new guys we got.”

Charles Barkley: “I think I was very surprised, but you know what?  It was a good trade for the Celtics considering if they wasn’t going to be able to re-sign the guy. And if you look at, they only need Perkins against the Lakers if they get to the finals. They gonna have a tougher time getting through Chicago and Miami. Perkins wouldn’t have been a real big factor in that series. So if you’re going to lose a guy … they got the best deal they could under the circumstances.”

LeBron James: “I’m just as surprised as everyone else was.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee or a future mailbag? Send an e-mail to brohrbach@weei.com or a Twitter message to @brohrbach.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jeff Green, Kendrick Perkins
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