Don't tell Danny Ainge the Celtics are out of the NBA playoffs because they traded Kendrick Perkins.
"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?"
In other words, the team's president of basketball operations -- unlike many in Celtics Nation -- isn't blaming the Celts' second-half slide, and their second-round ouster, on the controversial trade of Perkins to the still-alive Oklahoma City Thunder.
"Without Perk, we were counting on . . . not all of our centers, but Nenad Krstic, who was playing well; Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who was playing well; Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq Shaquille O'Neal, who were hurt that we thought would come back," said Ainge.
"Jermaine came back and did his part, played great defense for us, held down the fort, but was clearly playing with injuries; he hurt his wrist in the first game of the playoffs, wasn't quite the same. Shaq really never returned. Baby, all of a sudden, just wasn't playing well. And . . . Krstic had the two bone bruises.
"So the trade didn't work. That's just part of the game and part of life, a frustrating part."
But he still thinks the reasoning behind the move was sound.
"If I had to do the trade today, I would have done it."
Dickerson's 30-minute interview with Ainge will air Monday night on Comcast SportsNet at 7 p.m.