Oklahoma City Thunder: 10 Reasons They Must Amnesty Kendrick Perkins

Ben ShapiroAnalyst IIIJune 26, 2012

Oklahoma City Thunder: 10 Reasons They Must Amnesty Kendrick Perkins

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    There's nothing at all wrong with having Kendrick Perkins as your starting center in today's NBA

    This is not an age of big men. Teams don't face-off against the likes of David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal every week. 

    This is the era of the salary cap though. When every team only has a finite amount of money to spend on each player, that fills each roster spot, the word "value" takes on a whole lot of meaning. 

    The newest NBA collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows teams to "amnesty" one player between this season and the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. 

    That player will still get paid his salary but it won't count against the team's salary cap or luxury tax. 

    Should the Oklahoma City Thunder use this provision on Kendrick Perkins? 

    It just might make sense. Here's why. 

Salary

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    Clearly if Perkins were dirt cheap this would never be written. Perkins is not a "max-contract" guy. He does make a decent salary though. 

    Perkins will be paid $7.8 million next season, $8.4 million in 2013-2014, and $9.1 million in 2014-2015. 

    That's over $25 million dollars. 

    Could that money be spent in a better fashion? It's entirely possible. 

Age

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    Kendrick Perkins is 27 years old.

    That makes him neither old, nor young. He has been in the league for a total of nine seasons though. 

    That's because Perkins went directly from Clifton J. Ozen High School in Beaumont Texas to the NBA. After nine years in the league, a player has likely realized his potential. 

    Players don't often experience a complete 180 turnaround or a sea-change in how they perform after nine seasons.

    With that in mind the Thunder need to ask themselves if this 27-year-old player is worth a roster spot and over $25 million over the next three seasons. 

Offense

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    Over the course of his nine year career, Kendrick Perkins has averaged 6.2 points per game. The highest single season scoring average he ever registered was 10.1 in 2008-2009, as a member of the Boston Celtics.

    Perkins was never known for his offense, but since joining the Thunder midway through the 2010-2011 season he's only averaged 5.1 points per game.

    Before you blame that on the presence of the "Big Three" in OKC, consider that when he averaged 10.1 points per game for the Celtics he was playing alongside Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

    Perkins offense, which was never a strength, appears to be weakening. Meanwhile his salary is scheduled to increase.   

Defense

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    Maybe Perkins offense is in decline, but that was never the reason why teams valued him in the first place.

    Perkins had a good rep for being a solid defensive center.

    In fact, at one point, he was considered one of the anchors of a Celtics team that is known for its defense.

    Those days appear to be in the rear view mirror. Perkins defense has become inconsistent, perhaps a result of teams figuring out his strengths and weaknesses but it doesn't matter. His defense has lost a bit of it's consistency.  

Temperament

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    While one can certainly agree with Kendrick Perkins in his contention that Thunder head coach Scott Brooks made poor adjustments in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, it's hard to agree with the manner in which Perkins voiced his displeasure.

    Following a game in which he saw limited playing time, and his team lose, Perkins chose to question his coach in the most public of formats, the media.

    Perkins was understandably frustrated, but there's a time and place for everything and that was a poorly timed outburst.

Serge Ibaka

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    For most of last season Kendrick Perkins started at center and Serge Ibaka started at power forward. 

    As the playoffs progressed there were times when Perkins was not on the court. Sometimes the Thunder had Serge Ibaka at center. 

    Ibaka is not as big as Perkins but he's every bit, if not more, productive. Ibaka's 9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game last season, made him a much more productive player. 

Nick Collison

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    Maybe the Thunder haven't noticed yet but the difference between career backup Nick Collison and current starter Kendrick Perkins is not that dramatic. 

    Last season Perkins averaged 5.1 points per game, Collison scored 4.5. Perkins grabbed 6.5 boards a game, while Collison corralled 4.4 a night.

    Here's one more series of numbers. Over the next three seasons Kendrick Perkins will be paid $25.3 million, Nick Collison will receive $7.7 million.

    Are the extra $17.6 million worth it for less than one point and just over two rebounds a night? That's up to the Thunder to decide.  

Team Chemistry

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    The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team that wants to get out in the open court. With the trio of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden who are all under the age of 24, that's not going to change anytime soon. 

    Kendrick Perkins has never had a reputation for speed, or grace. At the age of 27, that's not going to change either. 

    Perkins probably wouldn't admit it but there are other NBA teams that play a style of basketball far more suited to maximizing his skills.

Injuries

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    As a player advancing in age one can expect to start to suffer more injuries. 

    Kendrick Perkins already has an ugly knee injury that he suffered in Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals. 

    Now news has come out that Perkins played through a torn groin muscle in this past season's playoffs.

    Playing through an injury like that is admirable, but at some point those injuries will pile up to the point where Perkins won't be able to play through them. That point could easily happen before his contract expires following the 2014-2015 season.  

Other Options

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    Let's say the Thunder did amnesty Kendrick Perkins. 

    It's not as if he's an irreplaceable commodity. There will be a slew of mid-level big men on the free agent market this summer. Some would cost as much as Perkins, some would be less. It's hard to imagine that any of them would be that less productive than Perkins. 

    Unfortunately for Perkins ( if he wants to stay in Oklahoma City) he's not playing at a level that validates the salary he makes. His current team has better players, or at least similar players, who are better fits for the current team, and make less money. 

    It's time for the Thunder to amnesty Kendrick Perkins. It won't be the end of Perkins' career, and in the long run it's probably best for both parties.