It was a real game changer in the Western Conference when Kendrick Perkins was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Oklahoma City Thunder three years ago, but it seems that there is a chance his time with the NBA finalists is over, possibly looking to trade him to the Phoenix Suns.
Perkins has always been the unappreciated member of the Thunder over the last two-three seasons, but his defensive abilities, being more than just a big body in the paint but being able to defend smaller players on pick-n-rolls has been vital in the Thudner’s reign as one of the best teams in the NBA.
But last season’s finals, where Perkins wasn’t a lot of use on defense because of the small-ball the Heat played in the final, which left Perkins forced to move to areas on the court he isn’t at his best in, while still not being the offensive factor the Thunder would like him to be (only 4.6 points per game in 25 minutes) make the option of trading him a viable one. The fact that the Lakers aren’t looking like a team that is going to make the postseason; the Mavs as well, two teams Perkins was specifically brought over to handle is also of some assitance in making the decision. To where?
The Phoenix Suns might be the recepients, looking to make a few moves of their own. The Suns currently have about $6.44 million in salary cap room, and are looking to deal Marcin Gortat, who isn’t having a very good season (11.6 points per game) but is still a better offensive option than Perkins, not to mention at a slightly cheaper contract ($7.7 million next season compared to $8.9 million and $9.6 million in 2015). Yes, it’s also about money.
The deal being proposed at the moment is sending Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb and a first-round pick for Marcin Gortat and P.J. Tucker. Lamb is on the first year of his rookie contract, while Tucker is owed only $884,000 next season.
Losing to the Miami Heat at home while seeing the San Antonio Spurs make a surge to the top of the Western Conference has shaken the confidence in Oklahoma City, who also want to avoid paying a lot of tax starting 2013-2014, and Gortat slightly helps with that. Just a reminder – Perkins was a big part of why the Thunder were able to slow down the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals in the last four games. Almost any big man in the league is a better offensive option, but on defense, it’s hard to find a better guy to guard centers.