If Kendrick Perkins is gone, what has the OKC Thunder got?

The Thunder's center did not practice Tuesday. And the team's championship hopes are riding on the health of his ailing hip.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 8, 2012

How you like him now?

Now that the Oklahoma City Thunder's championship hopes are riding on the health of his hip, and now that his defense is desperately needed to contend with the best center left in these playoffs, how do you like Kendrick Perkins?

Do you now appreciate what “Big Perk” brings?

The faction of fans that have unabashedly bashed Perkins from the moment he arrived — writing him off as out of shape and overpaid — should.

This is when Perkins reveals his true value.

We're seeing as much now that a lingering injury to the Thunder's starting center continues to send a scare throughout the whole state as there still is no timetable for when Perkins will be on the mend.

Three days after sustaining a right hip muscle strain, Perkins still was unable to practice Tuesday. He remains day-to-day and will continue receiving treatment in hopes of returning to the Thunder's lineup in time for the start of the team's second-round series.

“In a couple of days we'll see where he is,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “He's sore. But he just has to go through the process of getting better.”

Perkins was not made available to the media Tuesday, but he was spotted inside the team's training facility near the conclusion of practice, still walking gingerly. Teammates, though, said Perkins is in good spirits and progressing.

“He's doing very well. He looks good,” said Kevin Durant. “We have some of the best trainers in the league, and those guys are going to do a great job with Perk. Luckily, we got five or six days to kind of rest him a little bit and get ready for the next series.”

The earliest Game 1 of the Thunder's Western Conference semifinal series can start is Saturday. Durant said he thinks Perkins will be ready.

“I'm really expecting Perk to be in the lineup,” Durant said. “But that's just me. I really don't know his status or what's going on. That's just me being positive.”

Oklahoma City likely will face the Los Angeles Lakers in round two. L.A. owned a 3-1 series lead over Denver going into Game 5 on Tuesday night. The outcome was unknown at press time. But only eight teams in NBA history have rallied from a 3-1 hole to win a series.

Assuming the Lakers advance, the Thunder's tallest task will be slowing down center Andrew Bynum, who strung together the best year of his career this season. Depending on Perkins' availability, there's a chance the Thunder will have to deal with Bynum without its low-post defensive anchor.

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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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