Why Danny Needs to Give Perk an Extension

 I've come to the conclusion that some things in life just aren't fair, and Perk's injury in game 6 of the Finals is one of them.   If Perk didn't get hurt, there is no doubt in my mind that the Celtics would be Champions right now, even with the referees doing everything in their power to give the game to the Fakers.   Perk may not score the most points or even grab the most rebounds, but he is very important to the Celtics ability to win.  He does so many things that don't show up in the box score.  He might not get the rebound, but he boxes out so that his teammates can rebound.  He might not score, but he sets the picks to get his teammates open so that they can score.  

But it is Perk's defense that sets him apart.  He is one of the best defensive centers in the league. He is one of the very few centers in the league who can guard Dwight Howard with single coverage.  Without Perk, we don't beat Orlando.  Other teams struggle against Orlando because they have to double Howard, leaving a shooter open.  But with Perk's ability to cover Howard without help, it gives the Celtics a distinct advantage.  Howard is young and so we need to consider that we will have to beat his team for many years to come. And there are other teams with young centers like the Bucks, Bulls and Nets, that the Celtics won't get past in the future without a strong defensive presence in the middle.

Also, let's consider the 2008 Finals.  In games 1-4 and 6, Pau Gasoft averaged 14 points and Lamar Odom averaged 12 points.  In Game 5, Gasoft scored 19 points and Odom scored 20.  The difference?  Perk missed game 5 and that opened up the paint for the Fakers' bigs to score.   If Perk had played in Game 7 this year, I am convinced that the Celtics would have won the title.  The Celtics have to consider guarding Gasol, Bynum and Odom for years to come as well.  What center would Danny get for Perk's 4 million dollar contract who could do that? I can't think of a single one. 

And, Perk's teammates have a very high opinion of him as well.  Here is what KG had to say about Perk:
“Perk’s going to be a real big part of this team’s winning and this team’s progress. He’s very vocal. He has a very, very high IQ on how to play. He works really, really hard, and those things are refreshing. Not only that, but the way he communicates, the way he approaches the game, his work ethic . . . I like Perk a lot. You know we had some battles when we used to play against each other, and now that we’re on the same team, I love him. I love the fact that he’s beside me playing the way he plays. It makes it not only easier on me but easier on the other guys, also.”
The center position is one of the hardest to fill.  When a team gets a quality young big man or a quality point guard, they tend to hang on to them if they possibly can.   Thinking over some of the elite teams in the NBA over the years, we can point to a dominant big man on most of them. The Lakers of the 80s had Kareem, the Celtics of the 80's had Parish, Pistons of the 80s had Laimbeer, the Rockets had Hakeem and Sampson, the Lakers of the 90s had Shaq, the Heat championship team had Shaq, the Spurs had Robinson and now Duncan.

Only 10 teams since 1975 have won it all without a Hall Of Fame center and six of those ten were Jordan's Bulls.  Every team has has a strong center though: '74 and '76 Celtics, Cowens; '75 Warriors, Clifford Ray; '77 Blazers, Walton; '78 Bullets, Unseld; '79 Sonics, Sikma; '80,'82,'85,'87,'88 Lakers, Abdul Jabbar; '83 Sixers, Moses Malone; '81,'84 Celtics, Parish, '86 Celtics, Parish and Walton; '89 and '90 Pistons, Laimbeer; '91,'92,'93 Bulls Cartwright and Purdue; '94, '95 Rockets, Hakeem; '96,'97,'98 Bulls, Longly and Wennington; '99 Spurs, Robinson and Duncan; '00,'01,'02 Lakers, Shaq; '03,'05,'07, Duncan; '04 Pistons, Wallace; and '06 Heat, Shaq. And in 2008, the Celtics had Kendrick Perkins.   

And not only is Perk one of the top defensive centers in the league, he is a hard worker and a team player.  He plays the role that has been given to him and rarely steps out of that role.  And because of that, the Celtics have been successful.   When Perk signed his current contract,  average bigs were getting contracts of $10 million and more.  But Perk signed a 4 year contract for just $4 million a year which by any measure is a bargain.  And now it's another contract year and I don't see Perk making outlandish demands for a huge contract, even if he wasn't injured.  For Perk, it's all about loyalty and here is what he had to say after signing his current contract. 
"I'm happy to be a Celtic. They've been loyal to me since I got here. Everything has been good. I love the coaches. I love the organization. This is not rehearsed. This is really coming from my heart. I'm just happy we got this out of the way. It's not like I'm stopping here and I'm satisfied with this contract," It's really just motivation to keep working.
And Danny won't find a player who is tougher than Perk.  He has played through injuries that would sideline a lot of players.  I think back to the season that he had plantar fasciitis.  Most players who get this take off months to allow it to heal.  Perk missed just 10 games that season and played in pain most of the season because he knew that his team needed him.  He has played through shoulder pain, hyperextended knees and other injuries, not wanting to let his team down.  Rondo called him a warrior in a recent interview and Perk is definitely that.  I have no doubt that Perk will be back this season and will surprise people by coming back strong.

And even though the Celtics signed Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal, that doesn't mean that they no longer have a need for Perk.  Shaq is 38 years old and Jermaine will turn 32 in October and both are signed for just 2 years.  Perk is just 26 years old and has improved every year he has been in the league and with his work ethic, he will continue to improve every year.   He still has his prime years ahead of him and with Rondo can form the nucleus of the Celtics future team once the Big 3 retires. 

If Danny lets Perk walk, or trades him, what will he get in return? For a 4 million dollar contract, he certainly won't get a quality big.  And, it is also certain that he won't get another center who can battle Dwight Howard with single coverage.  And he won't get a center who can hold down the middle against Gasoft, Odom and Bynum.  And he will have to pay a LOT more for any center that he does get.   Danny's best bet is to lock Perk into an extension while he is coming back from the injury.

Danny signed Rondo to an extension instead of letting him hit free agency and because of that, the Celtics have the point guard position taken care of for the long run.   If Danny can do the same with Perk, the Celtics will have a strong foundation to build on after the 2 year window with KG, Ray, Shaq and JO is past.  I know this, Danny won't find a center who works harder or is tougher than Kendrick Perkins.   Even coming off an injury, there are plenty of teams that will be more than happy to offer Perk a contract.  He's just the kind of center that every team needs, including the Celtics.  If Danny lets him go, he will definitely regret it.  But, I don't think he will.   I think Danny is smart enough to know a good thing when he has it and will give Perk an extension this season and, like Rondo, will lock him up for the future of the team.