NBA

NBA AM: Kendrick Perkins Addresses Trade Rumors

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Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins talks trade rumors and free agency

This is a critical time for the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. The summer of 2016, when reigning league MVP Kevin Durant will become a free agent, has started to become a daily headline that leads to rumors and speculation. All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and defensive minded forward Serge Ibaka both hit the free agency market the following summer.

The Thunder’s core may be young in years, but the clock is undoubtedly ticking on the team’s championship window.

With pressure mounting, the Thunder’s front office has been extremely active in trying to make a push to get the team back among the league’s elite. The franchise acquired shooting guard Dion Waiters from Cleveland in a three-team deal in early January and were recently rumored to be in discussions to add former All-Star center Brook Lopez in a separate deal with Brooklyn, which fell apart for now. Our Alex Kennedy reports that the Thunder have been one of the most aggressive teams in trade talks lately, so don’t be surprised if more moves are coming.

One of the assumed players the Thunder would have to include in the rumored deal with Brooklyn (or any other trade bringing in a significant player) is veteran center Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins readily admits that he hears the trade chatter involving his name, but refuses to let it become a distraction to how he prepares on a day-to-day basis.

“You just go with the flow, man,” Perkins told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a business so you can’t think about trades. If you think about them, you’ll just stress yourself out. Everything is going to happen for a reason, so you just have to let it take its place.”

Perkins is in the final year of his current deal and is on the Thunder’s books for $9.6 million. While the value of expiring contracts has decreased a bit since the last Collective Bargaining Agreement, the center is still one of the Thunder’s most valuable trade chips since he can be packaged with other assets to bring in a high-priced player.

With free agency looming, the Thunder could potentially lose Perkins for nothing in return this summer.

But Perkins is totally candid about his upcoming free agency and fully believes that since he was acquired by the Thunder in 2011, he’s done nothing but help the franchise rise in the standings.

“I just have to come out and make sure I do my job,” Perkins said of his pending free agency status. “I try not to look ahead to free agency. I just try to go out there and compete night in and night out.

“But ever since I’ve got to Oklahoma City, I feel like I haven’t did anything but help the organization get to where they want to be. The organization has helped me also. So this is a family. If I’m here next year or not, if I leave, I’m going to miss everyone here because we’re like family.”

Oklahoma City has reached the Western Conference Finals three out of the past four seasons, losing in the NBA Finals back in 2012. This season, the Thunder (23-22) would be on the outside looking in at the playoffs if they started today, as the club currently sits 10th in the Western Conference standings.

But Perkins has his eyes set on bringing a title to Oklahoma City before he focuses on free agency. In fact, the veteran makes a bold playoff guarantee for his Thunder being virtual locks to secure on of the West’s eight playoff berths.

“We know we’re going to get in the playoffs,” Perkins said confidently. “There’s no if, ands or buts about it. We’re just trying to get better, but we still have our eyes on a title. We’re just building as a team.

“We’re just hungry. I feel like we can shock the world. We got off to a slow start and now we have to actually turn the heat on right now and get as many wins as possible. We feel like any matchup we could possibly get in the playoffs, that we could match up with anybody.”

For the season, Perkins is averaging 4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 44 games. The veteran big man lost his starting role to second-year center Steven Adams and is only logging 19.1 minutes per night.

Detroit Pistons reportedly interested in Miami HEAT guard Norris Cole

The Detroit Pistons recently suffered a huge blow to their playoff hopes when point guard Brandon Jennings suffered a torn Achilles. With Jennings now out for the season, the Pistons are reportedly scrambling to find a capable guard who could give them some minutes running the point.

According to Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group, the Pistons are exploring the possibility of trading for Miami HEAT guard Norris Cole. According to the report, the HEAT have let it be known that the fourth-year guard could be had for the right package in return.

While Cole has been productive, he has been in and out of the starting lineup along with Mario Chalmers. Miami re-signed Chalmers to a two-year deal last July and Cole is headed to (restricted) free agency this summer.

The HEAT acquired the rights to guard Shabazz Napier in a draft night deal and the rookie could be poised to replace Cole in the rotation if Miami finds an appropriate deal.

As of now, nothing is imminent on Detroit’s front but they are exploring the possibility. Cole is averaging 6.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 39 games this season.