Dan Shaughnessy's latest column on SI.com includes this interview with Danny Ainge regarding the trade of Kendrick Perkins:
Me: "I hate this deal. Tell me why I'm wrong. You were positioned to win the championship and now you're not as strong."
Ainge: "I think we're stronger. I think our offense and our defense will be every bit as good, if not better as long as we get some bodies healthy."
Me: "This team was built for this year. Who trades your starting center with eight weeks to go when you are leading the conference?"
Ainge: First of all, we were leading the conference because of Shaq. We had a better record with Shaq than we did with Perk. Our offense was better and our defense was at least the same. I don't think Perk is Perk yet. I hope that he becomes that for Oklahoma City's sake. We thought it was going to take some time for Perk. He wasn't the shot-blocker or the rebounder that he's been in the past. We think that by adding Jeff Green (Green had 21 against the Warriors last Friday), Nenad Krstic, and Troy Murphy we think we're a better team than we were. Shaq was starting for us when we had the great run this year. Baby (Glen Davis) was finishing for us. So we basically lost middle minutes.
Me: You're banking on Shaq being Shaq in the springtime (O'Neal has not played in a game since Feb. 1).
Ainge: "He's better than he was in the fall."
Me: "What about cutting the heart out of your team? What would it have been like if DJ had been taken away in the middle of a season?"
Ainge: "DJ was a star. Nobody put more time and effort into helping Perk become a better player and a better man than me. I spent so much time with Perk. I feel like I raised him in the NBA. I'm a big fan of Kendrick Perkins. I just think we have every bit as good a team now, and it helps us for the future. And the numbers back that up. Now if Shaq and Jermaine [O'Neal] can't play we could be in trouble. But Perk's out for three weeks right now. He's coming off an ACL tear and he's got a sprained MCL on the other knee so the health of all of those players is in question. I'm a Perk fan. Love him as a player. But I think he's a player that is not irreplaceable. Time will tell."