Thunder's Kendrick Perkins to work on silencing critics
Sam Presti sat Kendrick Perkins down for his exit interview on Thursday and showed the center clips of his old self before he busted up both of his knees.
Thunder headquarters Thursday, about 14 hours after the end of his season, and declared that it would be OK with him if we started next...
The footage was incredible.
Perkins saw himself running the floor, catching passes on the move and finishing plays with power, patrolling the paint and swatting shots mercilessly.
Presti, the team's general manager, was sending a simple message.
“He just told me that we're going to get you back to that point and even better,” Perkins said.
That's become the main offseason goal for Perkins, the Thunder's 6-foot-10 center who became a polarizing player in Oklahoma City following the mid-season trade that shipped Jeff Green to Boston. Some fans have called Perkins a bust. During the playoffs, national television analysts even called the deal a mistake by the Thunder.
Many forgot Perkins was far from 100 percent. He tore the ACL in his right knee in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals last June but returned to basketball on Jan. 25, ahead of schedule. Perkins then sprained his left knee on Feb. 22 and missed another three weeks.
When the Thunder acquired Perkins two days later, then gave him a four-year, $34.8 million extension four days after that, expectations shot through the roof. And Perkins, at times, let plenty down.
“We knew at the time we made the trade that he was not going to be 100 percent,” Presti said. “But he was on pace, and he's done all the work. I think a summer is really going to help him.”
Perkins didn't hesitate to label his performance this season a disappointment.
“I'd probably give myself a D, just because I know what I was capable of doing,” Perkins said when asked to evaluate his season.
Not that Perkins cares about critics, but the road to silencing them starts this summer. Perkins wants to show up for training camp at 265 pounds, 20 pounds lighter than he is now. He's hired a nutritionist and is planning to get to work right away, spending most of his time working out in Houston with former coach John Lucas II.
In the back of Perkins' mind is something former teammate and forever mentor Kevin Garnett once told him. It's what will fuel the Thunder's big man during these summer months.
“He said you'll see who really got love for the game once they get their money,” Perkins said. “It's certain guys that get paid and they just stop working. I'm not going to be one of those guys.”