Despite not playing since 2015-16, veteran center Kendrick Perkins has his sights set on a return to the NBA. 

Perkins doesn’t consider himself retired, even with taking his long layoff into account. According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, the former world champion is “just sitting here waiting on an opportunity.” Perkins played just 37 games for the New Orleans Pelicans two seasons ago, but he was recently spotted at the Las Vegas Summer League and is doing his best to get a call from an NBA team.

“Hopefully I can get a training camp invite soon. I want to earn my way. I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. So I’ve been working hard, going two or three times a day, working and grinding. I’m just trying to stay with it.”

In his last season with New Orleans, Perkins averaged 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 14.6 minutes. He’ll be 33 this November. Putting the unimpressive stats to the side, any team who wants Perkins won’t expect him to put numbers on the board. He was never the player to go out and average 18 points and 12 rebounds, but the Boston Celtics needed an enforcer on defense. He was that. Anything else was just a bonus.

Also Read: How Rajon Rondo Can Help New Orleans

From 2006 to 2009, Perkins boasted a defensive box plus/minus of plus-3.8, which, according to Basketball Reference, was sixth among players who played at least 5,000 minutes. Being able to protect the paint and not be a feared shot blocker is a challenge, but Perkins took it head on and did so with an old-school mentality. That’s not something seen in today’s NBA.

I’m not knocking this generation of bigs. I’m not calling them “soft.” The game is played differently, and that’s fine. The explosive offenses overshadow valiant efforts on the other end of the floor, but basketball purists won’t ever let that go unnoticed. However, Perkins’ style of play would be equal parts refreshing and intriguing.

Since his days with the Celtics, Perkins has slimmed down considerably with the hopes of transitioning to today’s NBA:

“I’ve been keeping my weight down, making sure I’m getting all the cardio I need, staying in great shape. I’m just going to do what I can. I feel good. I’ve been on top of my basketball work and I’m just waiting for my opportunity, it if happens. I’ve just changed my diet, working on my quickness, and just trying to get better. It’s 30 teams out there and I’m just looking for one opportunity. It will come. I’m just trying to leave it in God’s hands.”

Given the circumstance, it’s hard to envision him having a considerable role on any team who plans on contending. The NBA has evolved rapidly since Perkins has last played, and everyone has yet to see how versatile he on defense and if he can defend the pick-and-roll properly. Furthermore, whoever signs him would need multiple weapons on offense because Perk isn’t going to produce much.

Prospective executives are going to look beyond on-court production, though. Perkins is one of those guys who would be a phenomenal leader and a commanding presence to have around a young team who’s on the rise. He’s been in the trenches, been around a host of future Hall of Famers and was a huge piece of the Celtics championship team back in 2008.

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