As we saw with Miami's small ball lineup led by LeBron James at power forward and Chris Bosh at center, you no longer need a traditional big man roaming the paint. Why then, are the Thunder paying so much money to Kendrick Perkins?
It would make sense if Perkins was a dominant post scorer, the one thing Oklahoma City lacks, but he isn't. He's a declining low post defender who's the worse of their two big men.
The smart move for Oklahoma City, assuming they can't trade him, is to try to at least save some money and use their amnesty clause on him.
The Thunder have a four man core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. To retain Harden and Ibaka, they're going to have to go over the luxury tax. Getting rid of Perkins is one of the few ways they'll be able to save money without seriously hurting the team.
Perkins is an offensive liability. When he and Ibaka are on the floor together the Thunder often have to go 3-on-5 offensively because neither can score. It's fine to have one player who can't score, but you're really starting to skate the line with two.
The Thunder seem to be at their best playing small ball. Kevin Durant is a huge mismatch playing at power forward because most big men can't keep up with him. Ibaka is more than capable of playing center, and they already have two star guards.
They could slide Thabo Sefolosha into that last spot (assuming James Harden moves into the starting lineup), or they could chase another player.
They could look to sign a veteran to a one-year deal to fill their last crunch time spot. Perhaps Ray Allen, if he only wants to win a championship. They could also chase someone who fits a small ball lineup like Lamar Odom.
The main goal would be to create some long-term financial flexibility, but getting Perkins off of the roster actually helps them. His defense is declining and he's useless on offense. It makes no sense to keep him around at his current price.
They could look for a number of ring-chasing veterans to fill his spot in the rotation, or they could hope that Cole Aldrich is salvageable, but the important thing is that they need to get rid of Perkins.
Having two offensively challenged big men is a death sentence in today's NBA. Keeping Perkins isn't worth risking Ibaka or Harden. It's time for Sam Presti to admit that he's made at least one mistake (and he may not have made any others) and get rid of Perkins once and for all.
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