In a wide-ranging interview on The Big Show, Celtics president Danny Ainge touched on a number of topics including the status of Shaquille O'Neal, the play of Rajon Rondo and whether he still would have done the Kendrick Perkins deal today.
Ainge expressed confidence in his team as they head into a first round playoff series with the Knicks, saying he is much more hopeful about their chances than he was at this time last year. "I love our team and I like it better than I did last year, without question," Ainge said. "I think last year the questions were much more signifcant. Paul [Pierce] was not 100 percent healthy. We had serious concerns about [Kevin Garnett] going into the playoffs. I had much more concerns last year. This year, I like our bench better. We feel like we have a really strong bench and that will help us as well."
Ainge said he just wasn't sure whether Shaq will be ready for Game 1, but noted that's why they have so much depth at center.
As for Rondo, Ainge offered his theories on why his point guard's play had slipped over the last six weeks of the season. "I think he's tired. I think he lost some confidence. I think he was pacing himself because his hand was sore and his feet was sore," Ainge said. "The bottom line, let's just wait and see what Rondo we see now. Let's not worry about what Rondo was playing in Indianapolis in the middle of March."
He also laughed off the notion that he allowed the Perkins trade to affect him on the court. "Come on, get serious," Ainge said. "Give me a break."
On the Perkins trade, Ainge said that he still would do it in hindsight. "If I had to deal again today, based on all the information that I still have as of right now, I would still do the deal," he said. "It's my job to try to discern the reasons why were successful and not successful. Not listen to public opinion. I'm supposed to identify the real reasons why we're not winning or not playing well. I think right now the way we've been playing has absolutely nothing to do with the trade, but everyone wants to make it seem that way."
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