Oklahoma City Thunder: 5 Reasons Why the Thunder Should Trade Kendrick Perkins

Paul KnepperContributor IIIJuly 18, 2012

Oklahoma City Thunder: 5 Reasons Why the Thunder Should Trade Kendrick Perkins

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    Kendrick Perkins was believed to be the missing piece to the Oklahoma City Thunder's championship puzzle when the team acquired him in a trade with the Boston Celtics in February 2011.

    The 6'10'' center provided the Thunder with a physical presence, especially on the defensive end, and brought championship experience to a team whose core players were all under 23 years of age.

    However, during one-and-a-half seasons in OKC, Perkins has not had the impact that Thunder general manager Sam Presti envisioned. In fact, the explosive Thunder were more effective with the slow-footed Perkins on the bench last season.

    Presti's goal has been to build a team that can compete for championships for the next decade. He has some difficult personnel and financial decisions to make over the next year, including whether Perk fits into that plan.

    Here are five reasons why the Thunder should trade Kendrick Perkins.  

5. Perkins Is Injury-Prone

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    Perkins' teams have advanced to the NBA Finals three times—2008 and 2010 with the Celtics and 2012 with the Thunder—and on each occasion he was limited by injuries.

    He tore the medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee in the first quarter of Game 6 of the 2010 Finals between the Lakers and Celtics, forcing him to miss the crucial Game 7, which the Lakers won 83-79.

    Two years earlier, Perkins missed Game 5 of the NBA Finals against those same Lakers with a strained left shoulder.

    This year it was a partially torn groin muscle that slowed Perkins. He suffered the injury during Game 4 of the Thunder's first round sweep of the Mavericks and played through the pain, but his effectiveness was severely limited for the remainder of the playoffs.

    A team with championship aspirations cannot rely on Perkins to stay healthy through June.

4. Dismal Free-Throw Shooting

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    Perkins' awful free-throw shooting makes him a liability in the closing minutes of close games. The Thunder center has shot 61 percent from the free-throw stripe for his career.

    Unlike other notorious poor free-throw shooters, such as Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and even Ben Wallace in his prime, Perkins doesn't help his team in enough ways to justify keeping him on the floor late in the game.

    Eight million dollars per season is a lot to pay for a player whose coach doesn't feel comfortable with him on the court when it matters most.

3. He Has No Offensive Game

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    With the exception of setting hard screens and grabbing the occasional offensive rebound, Perkins brings nothing to the table offensively.

    Perk's slow, plodding style of play does not fit a Thunder offense that relies upon speed and ball movement. OKC's offense was a staggering 8.4 points per 100 possessions better when Perkins was on the bench last season.

    His awkward outside shot allows defenses to sag off of him, and Coach Brooks is unable to utilize him in pick-and-rolls because he lacks the length and/or explosiveness to finish around the rim.

    Perk is even less effective operating in the post. The former Celtic uses his strength to establish low position, but he doesn't have the post moves or vertical leap to score over or around long defenders.

2. Can't Beat the Heat

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    OKC's road to a championship will likely go through Miami, and Perkins' greatest strength, his physical defense against back-to-the-basket post scorers, is relatively useless against the Heat.

    The Heat neutralized the Thunder's big man in the Finals by playing a smaller lineup, with Bosh at center and Battier at power forward.

    Bosh's quickness poses problems for Perkins, and Battier's ability to hit the three forced Perkins or Ibaka to play on the perimeter where they're much less effective.

    Perkins also doesn't possess the offensive skills and athleticism to exploit Miami's lack of size on the other end of the floor.

1. OKC Wants to Keep Harden and Ibaka

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    Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are the Thunder's franchise players, though James Harden and Serge Ibaka became stars in their own right this past season.

    Harden was named Sixth Man of the Year and, at age 22, has plenty of room for improvement. The same can be said for the 22-year-old Ibaka, who averaged a league-leading 3.6 blocks per game.

    Both will be restricted free agents next summer if the Thunder do not sign them to long-term deals. OKC would love to retain them but would almost certainly exceed the luxury tax threshold in doing so.

    One way to free up additional cap space would be to use the amnesty clause on Perkins, though the Thunder would prefer to trade his contract and receive an asset in return.