Back in 2011 the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Kendrick Perkins by giving up Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic. The Thunder also rewarded Perkins with a contract that was worth up to 36 million dollars over four years. At the time it seemed like all the Thunder was missing was a legit center to help command the paint. With Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant as the main focal points of the team it appeared that the Thunder had the right mixture with Perk in the fold. Perk was a great contributor while he was a Boston Celtic. With his championship experience and a defensive prowess many thought the Thunder were on their way to the top.
The Oklahoma City arrived last season by making it to the NBA Finals. Though, the Thunder lost to the Heat in 5 games many were impressed by the play of such a young team, making them a future title contender for years to come. Despite the Thunder being in 2nd place of the Western Conference this season they miss James Harden a great deal and Kendrick Perkins have regressed a bit.
Perkins has not played up to the expectations of his contract since suiting up for OKC. Perkins is not a numbers guy so his numbers will never have a wow factor. His impact on the game is what is not being brought to the table. With the NBA reverting to “small ball” Perkins is really in no man’s land against teams like the Heat, Nuggets, and Knicks. Perk seems to be a defensive liability because he has to guard quicker players.
Small ball will continue to play a factor in the NBA if the Heat continues their multiple title run. NBA teams are likely to copycat the Champion to try to duplicate the success.
Prior to the Perkins trade the Thunder may have had the best small ball team before small ball became popular. At both guard positions you had Westbrook and Harden, and in the front court there was Green, Durant, and Ibaka. At that time that may not have seemed like a conventional lineup, but today they would have the horses to keep with the league’s best.
The Thunder is still a great team today, but with Perkins on the floor they are always one mismatch away. If the Thunder meets up with the Heat again in the finals Perkins will be a non-factor due to matchups. In hindsight, was it really worth trading for Kendrick Perkins? The $36 million dollars that Perkins received could have been split between whatever contracts Jeff Green and James Harden would have received at the time. I am no General Manager, but it seems as if Perk is heading down amnesty lane and will not be with the Thunder after this season. I believe that if Perk is amnestied it makes the whole trade scenario even worse. The Thunder may have not had the cash to keep Harden, Westbrook, Green, and Durant together, but it would have been interesting to see it happen. With the league transcending into fast break and speed the Thunder probably could use their team from 2011. We as basketball fans would never know how the Pre-Perkins Oklahoma City Thunder would have been after years of growing together. This is just another great unknown in the history of basketball. Now all we have is what ifs!