Perkins: 'I hope I don't get too emotional'

643138.jpg

Perkins: 'I hope I don't get too emotional'

BOSTON Kendrick Perkins has been in his share of tough games, but none of those experiences could have prepared him for what he's about to face tonight as the former Celtic returns to Boston for the first time with his new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

On the plane ride in, Perkins acknowledged he had chills before it hit the Tarmac.

"Just being back in the city where you grew up from being an 18-year-old boy, to a 26-year-old man," said Perkins, who was drafted by the Celtics in 2003 and was traded to the Thunder last February. "I hope I don't get too emotional. I gotta try and keep at least a little bit of a scowl on my face."

After going out for dinner with former teammate and best friend Rajon Rondo, Perkins saw a series of interviews with Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Rondo and Kevin Garnett discussing their relationship with Perkins and how he will always be family to them.

"I was hearing them say it about me. I had to catch myself," Perkins said. "It's kind of hard. You get emotional at times. At the same time, you have to come in and focus on playing basketball. So you have to balance out the two, which makes it really hard. You miss everybody around, you grew around and a relationship with . . . it's hard."

Although he's no longer a member of the Celtics, Perkins said it hasn't been easy seeing his old team struggle so mightily this season.

While it's highly unlikely the C's (4-7) will finish with one of the top records in the East, Perkins is convinced they'll be a force come playoff time.

"They're gonna be good. They're gonna make the playoffs. Whatever team they gotta face, I feel sorry for that team. I say they'll hit their stride by late February. Going into April, I see them run off about 10, 11 games in a row and sneak into the 7, 6-spot and make some noise in the playoffs. That's what I believe."

Perkins and his new team shouldn't have any worries about sneaking into the playoffs.

The Thunder (11-2) have one of the most talented and deepest teams in the NBA, and are one of the early favorites to win it all this season.

You don't have to remind Perkins how fortunate he is to leave a franchise that was a title contender, for another one that is also in the championship chase.

"I got a great bond with the guys here (in Oklahoma City) also," Perkins said. "So you leave one great situation and go to another great situation. I'm like, not too many guys in the league get that opportunity. I didn't take it for granted when I was here. I don't take it for granted where I'm at now, either."

OFFSEASON

Report: Durant decision ’90 percent made’ to return to Thunder

Report: Durant decision ’90 percent made’ to return to Thunder

Kevin Durant’s decision to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder is “90 percent made” and “it would take an amazing sales pitch to change it,” a friend of the NBA’s top free agent told ESPN.

Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated reports that “barring an incredible sales job, several friends and business colleagues close to the 2014 NBA MVP expect him to return to Oklahoma City for at least another year.”

“His decision is 90 percent made. It would take an amazing sales pitch to change it,” one of Durant’s longtime friends told Spears and another said, “It’s going to take some sweet-talking to get him to pass up all the money he can get by staying in OKC.”

So, that “incredible sales pitch” will come Saturday from the Danny Ainge and the Celtics, who are scheduled to meet with Durant in the Hamptons on Long Island then. 

The Celtics are one of six teams that Durant will meet with. He talked to the Thunder Thursday.  Also making pitches this weekend will be the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat.  

Staying in OKC would be more lucrative for Durant.

Spears reports that Durant could get $30.6 million a year in an immediate multiyear deal with the Thunder as opposed to $28.4 million from the other teams and, if he opts for a shorter deal now and a longer one later, he could make as much as $40.7 million a year in Oklahoma City versus $32.6 million a year elsewhere. 
 

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

bruins_torey_krug_122615.jpg

Bruins, Krug agree to four-year, $21 million deal

With the salary room created by buying out the final two years of veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg contract, the Bruins signed restricted free agent Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract ($5.25 million cap hit) through the 2019-20 season.

The negotiations between Krug and the Bruins had been fairly quiet with GM Don Sweeney consistently stating that something would get it done and it seemed the writing was on the wall when Sami Vatanen signed a four year, $19.9 million extension with the Anaheim Ducks. The two are comparable players in size, offensive production, NHL experience and both also served in top-four roles last season while projecting to stay at that level of performance over the next four years.

The Bruins couldn’t afford to let Krug, 25, hit the open market, where another team could potentially poach Boston’s only true puck-moving D-man with an offer sheet. After signing a one-year bridge deal, Krug played in a career-high 81 games, with four goals and 44 points. His 40 assists were ninth among D-men in the NHL last season and it’s clear that Krug plays a vital role as a puck mover and power-play specialist.

Krug also stepped up in minutes last season, finishing only behind Zdeno Chara with a career-high 21:36 average of ice time and essentially serving as the B’s de facto No. 2 defenseman. The diminutive (5-foot-9) D-man did pay the price for playing such heavy minutes by undergoing shoulder surgery following the season, but Krug was expected to make a full recovery and be ready to jump into the lineup at some point during the month of October.

The signing of Krug is a big piece for Sweeney and the Bruins, who must prepare for what awaits them Friday, once the free agent market opens, and later in the month when they begin efforts to re-sign Brad Marchand to an extension.