Oklahoma City Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins has often been thought of as the weak link on the Thunder roster.
Perkins came to OKC with the reputation of being some kind of defensive anchor. He could defend Dwight Howard one-on-one better than anyone in the league and he was going to be the missing piece for the Thunder in their quest for an NBA title.
Then last year happened and the Thunder made it to the NBA Finals and Perkins was one of – if not the – reasons the Thunder lost in five games to the Miami Heat.
Yesterday, Perkins was linked to a trade rumor with the Phoenix Suns. The potential deal would have sent Perkins, Eric Maynor, Jeremy Lamb and a first-round pick to the Suns for Marcin Gortat and P.J. Tucker.
Shortly after the rumor, it was announced that Perkins would miss the game against the Houston Rockets with a sprained right knee. After being off for the last five days mind you.
The rumor felt like it would come true if you were reading between the lines, and everyone was. Then a source came out saying it was nothing more than a rumor and the original source that started the whole thing said it was a “league rumor” and that the Thunder and Suns actually hadn’t discussed this trade.
Too bad for the Thunder.
Ridding themselves of Perkins and gaining Gortat to replace him would have been monumental. Gortat isn’t anywhere near the defender that Perkins is but offensively he is far superior. Gortat can actually score from the post too and is great at rolling to the rim in the pick-and-roll. He would have been something the Thunder offense – which is the best in the league – has never had.
The loss of Perkins defensively would not be a big deal either. With the decline of the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies, Perkins has less value as a great defender of post-up players. The Thunder don’t really need that so much anymore and can easily survive without it.
What OKC needs the most is more scoring in the paint. Whenever they lose, it’s usually because they are shooting too many jumpers and not getting enough easy looks. There is not a ton of balance in where the Thunder offense can hurt you as it is mostly from the outside.
Gortat would change that overnight.
So the question isn’t just “Should the Thunder trade Perkins?” It depends on what they can get. If acquiring Gortat to replace him is possible, they need to do it. If Kevin Garnett is a possibility, do that too.
The Thunder know this and they would never let him go for nothing. They probably value him more than any other team in the league.
The trade deadline is later today at 3 p.m. EST. We will know soon enough of Perkins is on the way out or not.