OKLAHOMA CITY — Thunder GM Sam Presti delicately brushed aside questions regarding the performance of starting center Kendrick Perkins. He said he expects Perkins to remain an elite post defender that will help them contend with big bodies in the Western Conference.
“He’s going to impact our team in other ways as well. You know, it’s always hard to answer those questions without sounding defensive other than to say that Perk’s a part of the success we’ve had here. He’s an important member of the team. We expect him to fulfill the role that he’s given and contribute.”
The soon-to-be 29-year-old center averaged 4.2 points and 6 rebounds a game last season, down from his previous season averages of 5.1 and 6.6, respectively.
“Obviously, he has high standards for himself and he expressed that at the end of last season. He makes up part of the group, part of that continuity that’s been around for quite some time and been a part of some of the best teams that we’ve had here.
Time to grind: Without the burden of U.S.A. basketball this summer, Kevin Durant was able to spend more time in the offseason focusing on his game and meshing with the team, Presti said.
“Kevin having the time to devote to individual development, I think is a big thing for us, in addition to having some time to recover physically. And I expect him to continue to get better for many years, not only because of his age, but also because of who he is,” Presti said.
“You know, Serge is the same way. Those guys are incredible workers, both of them. And then Russell, I believe that once he gets back on the floor, I think he’ll be better as a result of going through what he went through, as difficult as it’s been. He’s as competitive as they come.”