Slimmer Kendrick Perkins might mean a lot more for Thunder

The OKC center lost 30 pounds during the summer with exercise and a better diet.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 11, 2011
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Kendrick Perkins met his goal.

The Oklahoma City Thunder center wanted to come into training camp at 275 pounds.

He's now 267.

Asked what he was at the end of the playoffs, Perkins didn't hesitate.

“About 398,” he said.

“Nah, I'm just playing. I mean 298.”

The 30-pounds-lighter Perkins will make his 2011-12 debut Sunday at Dallas in the team's preseason opener. Last season, after he arrived from Boston in a midseason trade, not only was Perkins not at his ideal weight, but he also was not healthy.

His right knee was still recovering from 2010 arthroscopic surgery for ligament reconstruction and meniscus repair. His left knee still wasn't right after he sustained a sprained MCL in late February. As a result, his athleticism vanished and his rhythm was out of whack. Some things that once came effortlessly for Perkins, such as dunking and blocking shots, no longer defined his game.

The Thunder knew it last year but now acknowledge that Perkins willingly played and put himself in a position other players perhaps would not have. Perkins had been medically cleared and his knees were structurally sound. But his timing was nowhere near normal.

“I just was excited to get back on the court,” Perkins explained when asked why he pushed himself. “I didn't care how, I just wanted to get back on the court and show my new team and my new teammates and the coaching staff that I'm in. I knew I wasn't close to 60 percent. But I just wanted to be out there.”

Now, Perkins wants to show the same people what he can really do. There are tons of nonbelievers, too. Critics cropped up the moment the trade came out. The scrutiny only intensified throughout the playoffs. Perkins, some said, was not a good fit on the up-and-coming Thunder. Others labeled him an injury-prone has-been.

But general manager Sam Presti said from the start that Perkins' addition was about the long term, not immediate gains. With a clean bill of health, the time has come for Perkins to prove his worth.

“I just worked hard this summer,” Perkins said. “I was disappointed in myself last year in the playoffs. I don't like to blame anything on injuries, but at the same time I was out there so I should have made a difference. I just wanted to come back healthy and give it a shot with these young guys and the rest of the team and the whole city; just to show what I can do and be more productive.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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