Kendrick Perkins was the starter on a championship team. He is regularly mentioned as one of the building blocks, alongside Rajon Rondo, of the post-Big Three future for the Celtics. His devastating new injury in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June was used as an excuse by many Celtics fans as to why the C’s lost in Game 7. So you would like to think he is an important player for the C’s.
If that’s the case, why does he sound like someone who is a little uptight about whether he even has a role on this team.
In an article in the Herald, Perk was downright defensive about his status. Which should not be surprising, considering that he was talking about defense (see what I did there?).
“OK, listen,” Perkins said, “I’m going to put it like this here: I can’t do what Shaq is doing, and Shaq can’t do what I do. I can’t do what Jermaine does, and Jermaine can’t do what I do. So the things that they bring to the table are different than what I bring to the table. See what I’m saying?
“At the end of the day you can say what you want, but I’m really the captain of the defense,” he said. “And that won’t change.”
Of course, we don’t know how healthy Perk will be when (if?) he does come back this season, likely after the All-Star break in February. From all accounts he is ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean he is the next Wes Welker. There is a chance that Perk will be a shell of himself when he plays this season. In fact, we’ve seen numerous instances in the NBA of just how long it takes to recover from a new injury. Most guys are not the same until two seasons after the injury occurred (Amar’e Stoudemire comes to mind. Or former Celtic Big Al Jefferson; watch him have a huge year this year).
Then again, Perk is right. Shaq isn’t going to bring the defense or athleticism to the table that Perk does. I’d like to think that JO will bring some of the same toughness on the defensive end and on the glass that Perk shows, and maybe even a little offensive range. But he does not even look like he will be the starter at center.
The truth is that having depth at the center spot will allow Perk to ease back into things when he does return. That is the reason that both Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal are on this team—to hold the fort both until Perk comes back and while he adjusts during his return. But that doesn’t mean that he should feel threatened. These aren’t a couple of young guns who are out to steal his role for now and the future. The two O’Neals are stop gap solutions that will hopefully make Danny Ainge look wise. And who is to say with their histories that either play won’t be felled by injuries at some point, making the apparent depth the Celtics possess a moot point.
And Perk isn’t entirely correct either. Kevin Garnett is the captain of the Celtics defense, and he is the leader on that end. But the defense is not the same without Perk back there. Regardless of how well the Celtics play with him out, he adds a different dimension and plays his role better than possibly anyone on the team. I think that Doc knows that.
So instead of being concerned about his job, maybe Perk better just focus on getting healthy. Something tells me the Celtics will need him by the end of this season.