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Why the Oklahoma City Thunder Must Trade Kendrick Perkins for a Real Center

The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming around as a team. Kevin Martin is starting to gel with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and the Thunder are back to thinking about the NBA Finals again. All they need is a quality center—because they don’t have one right now.

Kendrick Perkins plays the center position for the Thunder but he’s showing that he doesn’t belong on the court right now. Dating back to the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Perkins is averaging 5.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. The Thunder need better production from their starting center.

If Perkins were a free agent this year or only made a few million per year, those stats wouldn’t look that bad. In fact, as a backup, those would be excellent. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. He’s still under contract for three years and is owed approximately $26.5 million.

Opposing centers are abusing Perkins and whoever else they throw in there. During the 2012-13 season, opponents are averaging 20.4 points, 14 rebounds and four assists at the center position. Perkins used to get away with his poor offense because his defense was solid. Those days appear to be gone.

Perkins was a favorite of his teammates when he was with the Boston Celtics, but now he’s turning into a bitter player who’s looking for others to blame.

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman reported about the “usual head-shaking between Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins whenever the paint went left unprotected.”

The biggest issue for the Thunder is that Perkins has next to no value at this point as a starter. The would have to part with a young piece like Eric Maynor, Jeremy Lamb or Perry Jones in order to get some kind of value in return.

In the Western Conference, the Thunder are going to run into some big centers that are going to give the Thunder fits. Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee, Nikola Pekovic,DeAndre Jordan, Tim Duncan and Marc Gasol will all be in the Thunder’s path.

Nick Collison could fill in and when Hasheem Thabeet comes back, he could provide some sort of defensive presence. The Thunder don’t need more offense. They need toughness, rebounding and defense out of the center position.

Thabeet has been extremely foul prone, even more than Perkins, but at least he’s blocking shots and playing defense.

Thunder General Manager Sam Presti has a lot of work to do if they want to return to the Western Conference Finals. Eliminating some egos is one big part and upgrading the center spot is another. Trading Perkins hits both of those goals.

HoopsHabit originally wrote this for Bleacher Report

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