Kendrick Perkins has been the Celtics' center of choice for a while.
But last year's knee injury and his subsequent regular season performance have put a damper on his future. Perkins made significant strides, but the preseason injury to Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett's slow recovery process hampered his development.
In fact, it made him down right ornery. As his offensive touch diminished, he slipped back into his old habit of rushing shots and bringing the ball down to his knees. His once burgeoning offensive game became stagnant, throwing team chemistry off balance.
The 2010-11 season is a contract year for Perk; his recovery and reaction to playing on a post-operative knee is key to his Celtics future.
Management does not want to rush him back, but general manager Danny Ainge has been quoted as saying that Perkins starting is not a given. The Celtics proved that with the signing of the O'Neals—Jermaine and Shaquille. Both were given long-term contracts—although "The Big Shamrock's" deal is very team-friendly.
When asked about the Shaquille O'Neal signing, Perkins remained silent, a sure sign that he did not appreciate being in a Leon Powe situation.
Perkins has been on a slight decline, even though his numbers say differently. He has been a very efficient scorer, stays within his shooting range, and is a defensive nightmare for other team’s centers. Very few like to enter Perkins' domain when he patrols the paint.
However, his efficiency drops when the pressure is on him to make a simple layup at critical junctures of a game. He inexplicably loses sight of the ball and his position with the rim and his defender.
Boston has had a history of taking the tired, the poor, the teeming refuse of the NBA (Pistol Pete Maravich, Bill Walton) who are looking for one last hurrah. The Celtics, in most instances, have delivered with these reclamation projects.
The O'Neals can consistently finish around the rim, and Jermaine in particular has a great mid-range shot. This affords Doc Rivers more options and makes it difficult for opponents to double-team the wing players.
It also makes Rajon Rondo more dangerous, and with the experience he will gain in the World championships, the Celtics are in a great position.
Either way, the Celtics have given themselves an insurance policy which will give Garnett more rest, and have added a ticked-off Shaq who wants to leave the NBA with more rings than Kobe Bryant.
It will be interesting to see if Perkins can regain his form, come back with a more efficient low post game, and regain his role as Celtic enforcer.