The Thunder acquired Perkins from the Boston Celtics in 2007 to shut down the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers on the decline now, Perkins doesn't look to be needed much anymore.
During Thunder general manager Sam Presti's press conference Saturday, May 18, Presti still sees the value of having Perkins on the team.
"I think if you look at just the best teams in the league, they are able to play several different ways," Presti said. "For us, obviously, Perk provides us somebody that we feel like is an elite post defender. The benefit of being a good team is that you have different faculties on your team that can be used in different situations. We feel really fortunate that we have not only Perk, but a lot of our other players that can play in different lineups, and I think that's one of the strengths of our team."
The Thunder have a lot of thinking to do this offseason. Should they keep or trade Perkins? The amnesty provision in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement states a team can eliminate a bad contract without having their salary cap affected. Perkins is scheduled to make $9 million next season and $9.3 million in 2014-15 and Presti doesn't see OKC eliminating Perkins' contract.
"We think Perk has a lot of value to our team," Presti said. "He's a member of a team that won 60 games and helped us to our third division title in three years. I don't know that we can discount that."
For the 2013-14 season, the typical salary cap is expected to be about $60 million. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison and Reggie Jackson are currently under contract for a total of $52.7 million.
Sure, Perkins didn't have the postseason he was expected to have - averaging 2.2 ppg on 27 percent shooting from the field, but once Westbrook was done for the year with a torn meniscus, the Thunder's chances of returning to the NBA Finals was slim.
"Look, Perkins is a guy that's contributed to this team over the past three years," Presti said. "He would like to play at a higher level in the post season than he did, but at the same time I think that could be said for a lot of our guys, and I think he's going to go back and work and come back and improve."
If the Thunder wanted to eliminate Perkins, they would consider either looking to draft a center, sign a free agent or focus on bettering Collison.
"Perkins had good moments in the playoffs and he had some not so good but what he does with our team is he helps us win games," head coach Scott Brooks said. "When we had everybody hold he was a big part of what we do. Going forward I expect that to be the same."
Collison's postseason was a little better than Perkins'-- avg. 5.0 ppg on 47 percent shooting from the field.
The most notable center available in FA is Dwight Howard, but don't look for Howard to land in OKC. Howard would not fit in with Durant or Westbrook nor will he look to take a pay cut.
"Perkins is that he is somewhat of an easy target because of his statistics and I say this time and time again, he is never going to be a statistical guy," Brooks said. "He is a guy that brings toughness and brings experience and he brings things that help you win it. He makes winning basketball plays. He brings a lot of experience and toughness that helps put us in the position to win games."
Sarah Rogers lives in Tulsa and has been covering the Thunder for a year. She has been published in the Tulsa World, Dallas Morning News and websites.
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