Put yourself in Kendrick Perkins’ shoes for a second. You are in a contract year while recovering from an ACL tear. Despite your absence, your team is excelling at the top of the Eastern Conference. Your replacement in the starting lineup is a rejuvenated 38-year-old center putting up some of the best offensive numbers of his career since leaving the Miami Heat. It’s a painful position to be in, and one that Celtics president Danny Ainge worried about regarding Perk’s mentality entering this season:
“I’m sure Perk’s going to be worried and nervous since we are going to win games with this front line even when he’s not playing. I’ll be sitting with and talking with Kendrick throughout this whole process and hopefully he can get just focus on getting himself healthy and competing for his job back.”
Talk like that makes you worry about an extremely competitive guy like Perk trying to rush or overdo his rehabilitation in coming back. Obviously, the C’s, despite a lack of depth upfront at the moment,re a not going to rush him back. They need him when it counts and all Celtics fans undoubtedly share that sentiment regarding the big man’s return. However, it pleased me mightily this morning to hear the same kind of talk coming from the man himself regarding his return, while speaking to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald:
Perkins had been speaking in bold tones — and such hopes may still exist within him — but he seems tuned in to the wisdom of the full process. He has relegated talk of a January return to the shelf of hope.
“It can be real,” Perk said of playing sometime late next month, “but I think if I play it smart I’ll wait to come back until after All-Star break. That’ll give me more time.
“I think, what’s one more month, right?”
Words I long to hear. Perk wants to be ready when it counts. He’s not worried about putting up the numbers for his contract year. It’s a mentality all of us share, but it’s refreshing to hear the six-year veteran share that sentiment even it will be costing him in the long run. So what has Perk been working on in the meantime?
“I’m just working on my touch,” he said. “There ain’t nothing wrong with my arms. I’m trying to get better.
“Hopefully my field goal percentage will go up from 60 to 70 this year,” he added with a quick smile.
Noticeable in his routine is the inclusion of a bank shot from 10-12 feet. Perkins has had a nice feel for short jumpers, but he’s seemed to tense up on the shot in game situations.
“I think it’ll help,” he said of using the glass. “It’s something I wanted to work on this summer. I think it’s a good shot to have.”
Like Tim Duncan?
“Yeah,” said Perkins, “try to be.”
Let’s hope he doesn’t fall in love with it too much….