"For us, the amnesty clause is not something we've ever really considered as an organization," Presti said at his exit interview May 19.
Had the Thunder amnestied Perkins, they would have started down a financially dark road. Not to mention they would have lost a great defensive center and the hardhat wearing, lunch pail-carrying player who fits perfectly in their starting lineup.
Scott Brooks hinted towards the Thunder bypassing the idea of amnestying Perkins during his exit interview at the team's practice facility May 16.
"He's an easy target because of his stats," Brooks said. "He's never going to be a statistical guy, but he brings things that help you win. Going forward, I expect that to be the same."
Brooks has been on the Perkins bandwagon for a while and with good reason.
Perkins is as solid defensively as any center in the NBA, but it can't be seen in the box score after games. It's because little things and dirty work won't show up on stats sheets or on bottom lines.
What does show up in today's analytical basketball world, however, is player efficiency rating or PER. Perkins set an all-time low in postseason PER this year (-0.7 PER in 11 games). Not only should fans, media and critics ignore Kendrick Perkins' PER, they should ignore every stat on the back of his basketball card as well.
"He brings toughness and experience," Brooks said. "When we had everybody as a whole, he was a big part of what we did."
He's not going to score, he's not going to block many shots and he's probably not going to rebound. That's not what he's there for and that's not the player the Thunder need him to be.
The Thunder need Perkins to be physical. They need him to be a bully, push people around, contest shots, set screens, get technical fouls, block out, hedge on picks, talk on defense and be the team's enforcer.
Every team needs a good enforcer. Think Ben Wallace with the 2004 NBA champion Detroit Pistons.
Wallace won four NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards from 2002-2006 and was much better defensively than Perkins. However, he was the enforcer the Pistons needed to win a championship. Like Perkins, he wasn't much on the offensive end, but he did the dirty work and wouldn't take trash talk from anybody.
"Perk provides us somebody that we feel is an elite post defender," Presti said.
Wallace was obviously a better player than Perkins, but they share the same similarities. Hard-nosed, mean, can't score and you wouldn't want to see either late at night in a dark alley.
Plus, the fact of the matter is, the Thunder do not need any more scoring. They were the third best scoring team in the NBA this season and like Presti said during his exit interview, they won 60 games with Perkins, and "I don't think we can discount that."
What can be discounted, however, is the money the Thunder will save by passing on the amnesty clause with Perkins.
According to ESPN's Larry Coon, Under the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), a team is allowed to waive one player without salary cap penalization with the player receiving full payment of his contract. Once waived, a team can pick up the player at a fraction of the cost. The waiving team would then pay the balance of the player's contract.
Pretty simple. Simple enough that one of the league's best general managers wouldn't even sniff at the idea of using the clause with Perkins' contract.
Here's the scenario Presti will avoid.
Perkins is set to make roughly $9 million a year over the next two seasons. Let's say the Thunder cut him and the Charlotte Bobcats pick him up for $5 million a year, which is probably much more than he would get in reality. The Thunder would still have to pay him $8 million and find a center to replace him. If they sign a replacement for $3 million a year, they would be paying the starting center position $7 million for $3 million production.
It wouldn't make sense for the Thunder to overpay a position where offense isn't needed and although it wouldn't count against the cap, it still doesn't mean it's something they can afford.
At the end of the day, Perkins is just taking the brunt of the criticism that comes from a hungry fan base. Thunder fans have tasted success and they want their team to take it to the next level.
The Thunder can reach the next level with Perkins as the starting center. In fact, they may have been a knee-injury away from reaching it in 2013.
NBA statistics can sometimes be overanalyzed and sometimes a player's production becomes undervalued.
Kendrick Perkins is massively undervalued. His statistics may show otherwise, but what he brings to the Thunder can't be ignored.
Trey Hunter lives in Oklahoma City and has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder with media credentials since 2011. He has been published on Hoops Addict and SB Nation. You can follow him on Twitter: @TreyHunterSBN .
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