Listen to Kendrick Perkins and it becomes perfectly clear what his intentions are.
He plans on retaining his starting spot next season.
If you think he’s going to graciously step back for fearless rookie Steven Adams to step up, think again.
Perkins plans on playing.
When asked his thoughts about splitting more time with Adams next season as a two-man platoon at center for the Thunder, Perkins tried to answer as diplomatically as possible. But his response told you all you needed to know.
“Yeah, I mean, you just take it one game at a time,” Perkins said. “Next season is going to be what it’s going to be. I feel like he’s a competitor, and I’m a competitor.”
It’s an interesting dilemma for Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
Do you stick with the veteran whose best days are behind him but still owns a vast knowledge of the game’s intricacies?
Or do switch to the young buck and live with mistakes but bank on him being better down the line?
“That remains to be seen,” Brooks said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done this summer. Obviously, (Perkins) has been a big part of what we’ve done over the years. We have a good group of guys that all have to come back better, and I expect that to happen with all of our guys … We have four months before the next season starts.”
Perkins called it the biggest four months of his career.
Not only is Adams breathing down his neck for his job, but Perkins also is entering the final year of his contract. He won’t fetch nearly as lucrative a contract as the four-year, $32 million deal to which the Thunder inked him in 2011. But to maximize his value, Perkins must not only hold off Adams but also perform.
“I know this offseason is going be the biggest offseason of my career,” Perkins said. “It’s my first time ever going to be approaching a time when I’m going to be an unrestricted free agent. So (I’ve) definitely got to come back in better shape and try to get back to the basketball that I played in Boston. So that’s my goal.”
And Perkins will be back despite all the talk over the last few seasons of amnestying him.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti essentially said it’s not happening while insinuating that the Thunder would have lost in the first round rather than the Western Conference Finals had Perkins not been on the roster.
“It’s not something that’s been considered to this point,” Presti said. “Kendrick, as we know, is somebody that’s contributed to a lot of our success… I think he’s been wonderful for Steven Adams, and I think he’s had a lot to do with Steven’s growth, especially in the postseason, specifically how he studies and plays position defense. It would take something that would really help us strategically to look at that.”
Presti leaves all decisions on playing time up to Brooks. But while discussing Adams’ surprising debut season, the GM included a reminder of the organization’s methodical and meticulous history.
It could have been an indicator of which way the brain trust is leaning.
“There’s no question Steven has a bright future here,” Presti said. “Moderation has always been helpful for us in our development.”