For only the third time this season, the Thunder on Wednesday was forced to play a different starting lineup.
Kendrick Perkins, the team's starting center, did not play at Houston because of a strained right knee he sustained in Tuesday's practice. The team is listing Perkins as day-to-day with the injury, but it isn't believed to be serious.
Perkins was seen sitting on the sideline at Wednesday morning's shootaround receiving treatment from the team's medical staff. When he rose to gather his belongings before exiting the Toyota Center, Perkins moved slowly and walked with a pronounced limp.
“We'll see how he feels (Thursday) when we go back to OKC,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We'll evaluate it (then).”
News of the injury arrived on the same morning that a report in The Arizona Republic said the Thunder and Suns were engaged in trade discussions for Perkins over the All-Star break. The report said the Thunder would receive Suns center Marcin Gortat and forward P.J. Tucker in exchange for Perkins, rookie Jeremy Lamb and a first-round pick.
A team official said Perkins' injury is legitimate and essentially dismissed the notion that it had anything to do with Wednesday morning's report. The report was later refuted by a subsequent report, and the original reporter later explained that his report was more of a league rumor rather than an actual deal being discussed by the two teams.
The trade deadline is 2 p.m. Thursday, though, and as it fast approaches it's brought its annual amount of angst over what, if anything, might unfold.
“I've been here six years now, and you're never shocked about what happens in the NBA because anything can happen in the last hour,” said Kevin Durant. “So I'm never shocked … We're just waiting to see what happens.
“I like where we are. We're 39-14. If you want to make big changes to that, I guess. But I like where we are right now. We'll see what happens. You never know in this league.”
Guard Thabo Sefolosha and forward Serge Ibaka are the only other Thunder starters to miss a game this season. Sefolosha missed one game with a neck strain. Ibaka missed two games with a chest contusion.
HOW DOES 59 WINS SOUND?
Before Wednesday's game against the Rockets, the Thunder was on pace for a 60-22 season, which would be the first 60-win season in the franchise's Oklahoma City era.