Blog Entry

Kendrick Perkins clashed with Russell Westbrook?

Posted on: September 18, 2011 2:40 pm

Posted by Royce Young

A lot was made of the supposed bubbling conflict on the tight-knit Thunder last season. Everyone got all huffy when Russell Westbrook took a bunch of shots and kind of just assumed that it made Kevin Durant real mad.

But the Thunder's well-known chemistry was put to the test well before that. Not only did the trade that sent Jeff Green to Boston for Kendrick Perkins send one of their closest friends to another team -- Green called his fellow Thunder players his brothers -- but evidently there were a few hiccups with Perk when he got to town too. Via the New York Daily News, which admittedly, is a pretty weird source for this, but here it is:

As much as coach Scott Brooks chafes at GM Sam Presti’s meddling, his presence in the locker room, and his demands that the Thunder continue to improve from within, the organization is a lot more concerned with how Kendrick Perkins treats Russell Westbrook.

After arriving from the Celtics last season and being looked at as the veteran leader Oklahoma City needed to take the next step to compete for a title, Perkins went hard at Westbrook with his verbal criticisms, often saying that the Thunder’s playmaker couldn’t match Rajon Rondo as a playmaker. Those words didn’t sit well with Westbrook, who already had been criticized for shooting too much and was the subject of a benching heard-round-the-NBA when the Thunder played the Mavs in June.

(The writer, Mitch Lawrence, was also the one who reported that a Thunder veteran said that Westbrook thinks he's better than Durant. Also, I guess he's got someone telling him about a little friction between the Thunder's front office and Scott Brooks. I don't really know how accurate that is, but that's twice it's been mentioned.)

There's no doubt Perkins let people hear his voice early and often when he got to Oklahoma City. Everyone talked about what a vocal leader he was as soon as he stepped off the plane and that he led by keeping everyone accountable. A lot of players appreciated that approach, most notably Serge Ibaka who blossomed alongside Perkins.

But Westbrook, as he admits himself, is an emotional player that has a chip so big on his shoulder that it's more like a chunk. So when (or if) the new guy comes strolling in with his big mean scowl and starts barking at him over a turnover, I'm sure he wasn't a fan. I remember a game early on where Perk was talking to Westbrook on the bench during a timeout and Westbrook very clearly tuned him out. There was another time where I remember Westbrook responding and there was a mini-argument on the bench.

Is it a big deal? Not really, as long as you win. Chemistry is a great thing and the Thunder had it as well as anyone with Jeff Green. But that wasn't enough for the Thunder to win. They needed that big presence in the middle. They needed the defensive accountability that Perk brought. If that means they don't always get along, so be it. Sometimes you don't like your teammates. Sometimes you really don't like your teammates. You think Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant have always gotten along? What matters most is playing well and winning together.

Now what you run the risk of is when things start going bad and the team starts losing, that little tiff can turn into a time bomb that blows up in everyone's face. When you have a locker room that's not getting along, a team can survive as long as it's playing well. When it doesn't, then fingers start getting point and people start getting angry. Of course that would be if there is an actual upset of feelings within the Thunder with Westbrook and Perk. It's very likely this is nothing more than just a little misunderstanding. I never personally saw anything that would make me think that the team -- or Westbrook and Perk specifically -- weren't getting along.

A concerning trend could be starting up though. Perk seems to be popular with everyone and if he's clashing with Westbrook combined with all the other noise, it could just be another issue with the hot-headed point guard. Hard not to notice that Westbrook often seems to be on an island while everyone else is pretty tight knit on and off the court. Then again, we don't see everything.

I guess it's just one more thing to talk about with the Thunder though. So be it.

Since: Mar 6, 2009
Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:00 am

Kendrick Perkins clashed with Russell Westbrook?

I love how people rate player after playing a half a season with a team. yeah he looked awful in the playoffs but he still didnt have the time to gel with this team give him a full year before you cast judgment. But serg will be a monster this year he will really come into his own if brooks gives him PT

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: September 18, 2011 10:12 pm

Kendrick Perkins clashed with Russell Westbrook?

Perkins was a bust for OKC. He is not athletic, can't jump and can't take on the added duties required by OKC. He was a perfect match with Garnet because Garnet is a high end scorer and rebounder. Perkins was like his bulldog pet who did the grinding and fighting.

In OKC Perkins is expected to be a player not just a tough defender and grinder so OKC will continue to be disappointed. Green on the other hand will continue to improve. He may never be a superstar but he could eassily become a star.

Boston 1


Since: Jan 24, 2008
Posted on: September 18, 2011 9:43 pm

Kendrick Perkins clashed with Russell Westbrook?

I don't care too much for Kendrick Perkins. As good as he was for Boston, he was at the opposite end of the success spectrum for the Thunder. He spent the Denver series missing shots, clogging up the offensive lane, and getting dunked by Nene. Against Dallas Tyson Chandler outplayed him and he provided no defensive assistance. I think keeping Green wouldve definitely been a better option. Perkins is a great screener, but he is so bad at shooting that defenses can playoff him and help on Durant and Westbrook. Green would provide some assistance in spacing and he is the overall better player from the two. Perkins is looking like he will handcuff the Thunder from their championship aspirations with his lack of production and his big contract. Maybe Perkins comes back stron and shows something positive next year. MAYBE.

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