The Patriots showed their loyalty to Tom Brady in a big way on Friday morning. It's loyalty to a fault — owner Robert Kraft has agreed to a four-year extension for his veteran quarterback that will make him the richest player in NFL history, and it'll also keep him fantastically well-paid until he's 37.
From the Pats' perspective, that's not a sure thing. If Brady blows out his arm sometime around 2012 and isn't the same guy that won them three Super Bowls a decade ago, there's not much that Kraft can do. He's committed to paying his quarterback $72 million over the next four seasons, with $48.5 million of it guaranteed.
It's a risk — but if you're looking to maintain the status quo that won you three rings, it's a risk you have to take.
Here's my point, and bear with me, because I swear this is still a basketball column: Shouldn't the Celtics apply the same logic to Kendrick Perkins?
OK, OK, I hear you. Perk isn't an MVP, a five-time All-Star, or even a team captain. He doesn't marry supermodels, make Entourage cameos or have paparazzi following his every move.
But he is a big part of what makes the Celtics the Celtics, and he has been for the last six years.
This is what we've learned this week in Boston: If you have a guy who's always been unflappably loyal, always worked harder than anyone for the betterment of his team, and most importantly played a major role in bringing a championship back to the Hub, then you keep him. You do what it takes.
Perk is now entering the final season of a four-year, $16.7 million contract extension that he signed with the Celtics back in September 2006, and he'll probably spend a good deal of that season watching from the bench. If and when he returns this winter from the torn ACL that sidelined him in this summer's NBA Finals, he'll have just a few short months to showcase his talents before he hits the open market.
Either that, or he can sit down with Danny Ainge now and talk extension.
All indications are that Perk wants a new deal, but that there are still plenty of details to be worked out. Consider what he said this week in an interview with Tzvi Twersky of Slam Magazine:
"I?d love to be a Celtic for life, honestly. But, I know this is a business. So we?re gonna see how this year works out and just go from there. But I wouldn?t want to leave Boston; I love my situation. But we just gotta see and go from there, play this year out."
Translation: He wants to stick around, but only if the "business" end of things works out. Only if the Celtics get down to business and show him the big bucks.
Right now, the Celtics' plans for beyond the summer of 2012 include Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and a whole lot of empty lockers at the TD Garden. They still have a lot of unanswered questions about where they'll turn next, after the two-year window closes on their chance to win a championship with this current team.
Free agency is a pipe dream. Boston has never been a prime landing spot for superstar players in the primes of their careers — it's too small, it's too cold, and it's never offered the glitz and glamour of a Miami or an L.A. No, all the Celtics' past successes have come from drafting well, trading well and making shrewd moves to re-sign the talent they already have. Perkins could be one of those moves.
Pierce and Rondo are part of the Celtics' nucleus going forward, but they still need more. They need Perk to be their heart, their soul and their enforcer in the low post.
When a guy gives you everything he's got for six-plus years, you give him a paycheck. That's the way it should be. Have we learned nothing this week?