The sight of Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics’ center and defensive stalwart, lying on the Staples Center floor in agony on June 15 was too much for any Boston sports fan to stomach. It left every fan of the men in green wondering about the outcome of those NBA Finals and also about the future for the C’s 25-year-old big man.
We’re still wondering today: Will Kendrick Perkins be back and healthy?
Perkins, who originally thought he had torn the MCL and PCL in his left knee, was later notified that it was an ACL injury that kept him out of Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles. Perkins is now slated for major knee surgery this Wednesday, and he’s looking at a return date of late December or early January.
And for the Celtics, who haven’t exactly been emphasizing the regular season these days, there’s no reason to rush with Perk.
We’ve seen countless times that ACL injuries can seriously threaten a player’s career in the NBA. Josh Howard, Al Harrington and Shaun Livingston have all fought through it and come out alive, but it’s not easy. The Celtics have even seen the perils of the ACL firsthand in their own Tony Allen.
If necessary precautions aren’ taken, an ACL tear can and will end a career. The Celtics aren’t about to take that risk with a starting center who’s already been featured in an NBA title-winner.
Perkins will be back, but exactly when isn’t known and frankly isn’t that important. With Perk, the big picture is what matters.
The Celtics fought through numerous injuries last year, but through it all they maintained razor-sharp focus on their true goal — to be healthy, prepared and in a rhythm by April when the playoffs rolled around.
Despite the injuries last season to Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and others, the C’s were ready to play when it really mattered.
Despite Perk’s condition now, they can still be in the same place next spring.
We’ve all seen how the Celtics look in action without their big man in the middle. We saw it in Game 7 last month — when the C’s are lacking an interior presence, they’re soft on the glass and easily penetrable defensively. They have no way to strike the fear of God in opposing offenses.
With a healthy Perk, though, this team is a championship team. Perk missed his chance to prove that back in June, and he no doubt is itching for another.
Perkins is a competitor. He wants to be out there, and it kills him when he can’t do his part to help the Celtics win. But in this particular case, given the serious nature of his injury, he needs to wait. He needs to play it safe.
Whenever Perkins returns, he needs to be in tip-top shape. Perkins needs to be strong — he can’t be feeble and can’t allow himself to be pushed around by opposing big men. He needs to have the strength to push back.
A healthy Perkins is the Celtics’ enforcer. He’s got to stand up for himself, and to do so, he needs to have two good knees to stand on. In time, he’ll have them.
NESN.com will answer one Celtics question every day in July.
Monday, July 5: Is Kevin Garnett still an All-Star?
Wednesday, July 7: Is Doc Rivers’ heart still in it?
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