Oklahoma City Thunder Must Not Pursue a Kendrick Perkins Trade by Deadline

Kyle RamosCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2013

Dec 14, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (5) reacts to a call during the game against the Sacramento Kings at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Thunder defeated the Kings 113-103. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kendrick Perkins is far from the description of an ideal NBA center, but right now, he's the best option for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

By looking at numbers alone (4.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 block per game), Perkins has some pretty good stats, if he were say, a backup big man playing somewhere between 10-15 minutes a night. However, Perkins is not a backup center, he is a starting center for a championship-caliber team, and he's racking up 25 minutes per game this season. 

Those not familiar with Perkins' play or what he brings to the table often raise questions as to why he is still starting in OKC and why they even dealt for him in the first place. 

I'll have to admit, sometimes I agree with the cries for trading the veteran big man, however, I do also realize that Perkins fits into the larger picture of the Thunder a lot better than many people may think.

Most of Perkins' appeal and a lot of why Thunder GM Sam Presti traded for him comes from his low-post defense and general toughness. In the pre-Perkins era, Oklahoma City was starting Nenad Kristic, who wasn't exactly going to be making too many plays on defense (to put it lightly). Even with Kristic, the Thunder were starting to grow into a legitimate threat, but Presti knew that they needed someone else at center if they were going to progress.

Enter Perkins: a seasoned veteran with championship experience and a seemingly endless scowl on his face.

An Oklahoma City team with such a clean-cut look now had a player to give it some edginess, showing the rest of the league that it was not intimidated.

So far, that's been the story for the Thunder, who have really turned a corner since that trade, progressing to the Western Conference Finals in the year they got Perkins and then to the NBA Finals in their first full season with him.

While Perkins has struggled with injuries, OKC has benefited from having him on the roster and he has no doubt helped to expedite the maturity and intensity of Kevin Durant, who many have considered to be "soft" at times due to his skinny build and reputation as a babyfaced superstar.

Besides what Perkins has done in the locker room, his contributions on the court often go overlooked on the court. He's great at setting screens, defending elite big men and has a decent mid-range shot. 

What Perkins can't do is defend anyone with a jump shot, score with his back to the basket, or move quickly. These are the often scrutinized truths that make him look like a weak spot for a team with a great chance at a championship, and makes everyone wonder why the Thunder don't just look to deal him, especially since they are paying pretty good money for his services (he is owed roughly $25.3 million through 2015).

The reality is, Perkins has pretty low trade value right now, and the Thunder wouldn't be doing themselves any favors by making another major roster change after their big blockbuster James Harden deal right before the start of this season.

The return OKC would get for Perk wouldn't be anything spectacular, and his contract makes him even harder to deal out. 

This is why the Thunder must wait. Mostly because they currently own two future first-round picks from Houston, which they could use or trade in the coming years for a more sensible long-term prospect at center to replace the 28-year-old Perkins.

Sure, Perkins didn't have a spectacular postseason last year and that really hurt Oklahoma City in their attempt to upend Miami in the Finals. However, Durant and Russell Westbrook seem to have elevated their individual games in Harden's absence and Perkins' play on offense may factor in very, very little to how far the Thunder can go.

So overall, it wouldn't be wise to try and deal Perkins now, especially if trade talks break down and then you have an unhappy, unmotivated big man playing 25 minutes a night. 

Love him or hate him, Kendrick Perkins does actually help out the Thunder, and I'm inclined to think he's not going to be going anywhere for the rest of this season