The NBA trade deadline came and went and no big names were traded. The Oklahoma City Thunder made a few minor trades of their own sending Eric Maynor to the Portland Trail Blazers for a trade exception and a second round pick to the New York Knicks for Ronnie Brewer.
Days leading up to the deadline, there were rumors and speculation about the Thunder trading their starting center Kendrick Perkins.
This has been the case with Perkins the past few seasons. He is described as an intangibles guy who does the little things that keeps this Thunder team together. He is vocal on defense, sets hard screens and a leader in the locker room.
It’s hard to give Perkins much credit for his intangibles when you can’t really measure them. The Thunder are consistently better with him off the floor in all areas over the past few seasons.
After losing in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat last season and to the Heat twice this season, it started to feel like the team with the second best record in the NBA should deal their starting center.
Perkins was one of the biggest reasons why the Thunder did not win the NBA Finals. The Thunder were simply in too tough of a matchup situation vs. the Heat whenever he was on the floor. Perkins was only decent at defending Chris Bosh and the smaller starting lineup for Miami featuring LeBron James and Shane Battier at the forward spots got out to big leads in almost every game.
Perkins was acquired by the Thunder two years ago so that OKC would be better able to match up with the size of the Los Angeles Lakers. With the decline of the Lakers and other teams in the Western Conference that have size, it’s starting to feel like Perkins’ value has also gone down.
The Thunder could survive against the Lakers, Spurs, Grizzlies or Clippers this season without Perkins, no one is disputing that.
And if the Thunder could have acquired Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat for Perkins a few days ago, which was a rumor, how much better would the Thunder be now?
A stagnant offense with their starting five would cease to exist for the Thunder. It would no longer be four-on-five with teams spelling Perkins at all costs. The defense would maybe take a slight hit but the improvement offensively would have more than made up for it.
The real question is if that deal would have even been possible for the Thunder. Would the Suns have even wanted to do it or was it the Thunder that would have said no first?
We don’t know the answer to that right now. All we will find out is if still having Perkins on the roster as the starting center will once again come back to hurt the Thunder in the long run.