Thunder Taking Serious Risk By Re-Signing Kendrick Perkins for $34.8 Million

Thunder Taking Serious Risk By Re-Signing Kendrick Perkins for $34.8 Million Over the last five days, it’s become crystal clear that the Celtics had additional reasons to deal Kendrick Perkins beyond just the iffy status of his knees. There was also the contractual side of things — the C’s were obviously eager to prove they couldn’t be pushed around with the summer of 2011 looming.

The Celtics offered Perk an extension last month. Perk said no. The C’s responded by shipping Perk to Oklahoma City for two solid pieces that could help them stay competitive this spring.

We can now see just how high the stakes were in the Perkins poker game. It’s understandable now that the gamble was too rich for Danny Ainge‘s blood.

Ainge offered Perk four years for $22 million. Perk then went to Oklahoma City, where he re-signed on Tuesday for four years, $34.8 million.

That’s a huge difference.

Perkins will make $8.7 million per year between 2011 and 2015. To help you make sense of that number, here’s a partial list of NBA players currently under contract for between $8 million and $9 million this season:

Jason Kidd
Lamar Odom
Andrea Bargnani
David West
Devin Harris
Stephen Jackson
Richard Jefferson

That list includes an obvious Hall of Famer, a No. 1 overall draft pick, the crunch-time third option on a title-winner, two more All-Stars, and two more very good players. You could do a lot worse than spending your millions on those seven guys.

Does Perkins belong in that class?

It’s easy to say yes, since he was the starting center on a Celtics team that raised a banner to the Garden rafters in 2008. But Perkins also has his serious limitations — he’s not a good athlete, he can’t really score, and there’s the lingering issue of his banged-up knees.

Maybe the Celtics were wise to get out of this mess before it was too late.

The C’s lowballed Perk by offering him $5.5 million a year. He’s probably worth more like $7 million. He’s a solid defensive center and a physical body to protect the paint. Those are somewhat scarce, but not worth breaking the bank entirely.

The Thunder are taking a serious risk signing Perk for that much money. And it’s funny, because the Thunder are generally a very risk-averse team. Operating in a small market with an inexpensive young team, they haven’t had any compelling reason to gamble yet. But OKC general manager Sam Presti is a smart guy, and he’s decided that now’s the time to make a bold move.

It might pay off for him. But it also might blow up in his face — Perk could underperform, he could face more injuries, and he could eat a big chunk of the Thunder’s salary cap flexibility for the future.

The Celtics didn’t want to take that gamble. And knowing what we know now, it’s hard to blame them. When you shell out $34.8 million, you’d better not be wrong.

What do you think of the Thunder’s contract extension for Kendrick Perkins? Share your thoughts below.

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