Kendrick Perkins has played with his fair share of talent to know a lack of competitiveness when he sees it.
Perkins won the 2007-08 NBA title with the Boston Celtics, where he played with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in their primes, then followed with another Finals run with the Oklahoma City Thunder four years later.
In signing a one-year, veteran minimum deal last offseason with the New Orleans Pelicans, he had convictions of competing. But that hasn’t been the case, and Perkins isn’t happy about it, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
It’s very disappointing. At the end of the day, this is not what I signed up for. I signed up after I looked from the outside, coming in to a good young team that has been making strides in the right direction. We got real comfortable. We ain’t got long to make a push.
The Pelicans reached the playoffs last season and were expected to leap forward and contend in the incredibly competitive Western Conference.
But they sit at 12-26, tied for the fourth-fewest wins in the league and nine games back of the final playoff spot in the West.
They’ve lost seven of their last 10, including Wednesday to the Los Angeles Lakers, the West’s worst team.
Perkins didn’t pin the blame on injuries or a lack of chemistry under first-year coach Alvin Gentry, but rather an overall lack of drive, per Spears:
At this point in time, we are all just searching to find the right lineups and who is going to come out and compete at a high level every night. That’s been our main problem before anything else. We just come out too many nights and don’t compete at the level we need in order to win. What really is the key to everything is our level of competitiveness.
Even though the West isn’t what it used to be, we can make up some ground [to make the playoffs]. But we got to make it up sooner rather than later. [The coaches] are trying everything. They’re trying to put us in a position every night to be successful. The effort is not on coach. It’s on players.
Perkins has played in only nine games after suffering a pectoral injury, and in those contests he averaged just three points.
The Pelicans have reportedly been engaged in trade conversations over Ben Gordon and Ryan Anderson—both in the final years of their respective contracts—but nixed a deal that would’ve sent the latter to the Sacramento Kings for Rudy Gay, according to Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com.
What is in place doesn’t seem to be working, and the trade deadline is merely a month away. If the Pelicans hope to make up ground, which Perkins believes is possible, they’ll need to make personnel adjustments—and soon.