Kendrick Perkins isn’t the proverbial “one that got away” from Danny Ainge.

The Boston Celtics president of basketball operations insisted Thursday during his appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” he doesn’t regret trading the veteran center to the Oklahoma City Thunder in. Perkins had been a popular and influential member of the Celtics for seven-plus seasons when Ainge dealt him to the Thunder in February 2011 in exchange for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Perkins helped improve the Thunder’s fortunes over the ensuing four years, while the Celtics’ big-three era gave way to a rebuild. Nevertheless, Ainge defends the Perkins trade to this day.

“I do not, no,” Ainge said when asked if he regrets trading Perkins, per NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell. “I second-guess things, but that’s not one of them. And here’s why: Perkins was hurt. People keep forgetting that. Perkins had a torn ACL (he suffered during the 2010 NBA Finals). He wasn’t healthy, he wanted a contract extension, (and) we were not going to pay him the money just because of the payroll we had.

“And after we traded him, he ended up getting surgery again. So, he wasn’t going to help us then. Nenad Kristic was actually better than Perk at that moment in time because of his health, but then he got hurt.”

Ainge had been in charge of the Celtics’ basketball operations for fewer than eight weeks when the team acquired Perkins from the Memphis Grizzlies on June 26, 2003 in a draft-day trade. Perkins developed from raw talent to starting center during the early years of Ainge’s tenure, and he remains close to the longtime Celtics executive. They even discussed Perkins potentially returning to the Celtics earlier this season before abandoning the idea.

“I love Perk,” Ainge said. “He’s one of my favorite (players). I feel like I helped raise him as a kid. He was 18 years old when we got him, and I’ll always be a fan, but we just didn’t have — we couldn’t pay him going forward with the money we had and probably he deserved.”

While NBA business almost always trumps personal feelings at any given moment, it’s good to know personal relationships often carry more weight with the passing of time.

Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images