By Randy Renner
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins spoke with reporters for the first time since media day and as usual delivered a candid conversation and graciously answered some tough questions.
Perk said, "I ain't gonna lie, I'm nervous," about the future as he heads into the final year of his contract. He said he doesn't know yet how much playing time he'll get in games or "whether I'm startin' or comin' off the bench," and then he dropped this little nugget. "To me it really don't even matter, I just want an opportunity to play."
When training camp opened Thunder head coach Scott Brooks told reporters the shooting guard and center spots were open and as camp progressed and preseason games were played it became clear that second year center Steven Adams had progressed enough to legitimately lay claim to the starting job.
Of course it was mostly a one man competition because Perkins couldn't practice or play in games because of a quad muscle he strained the week before camp began.
He's been back in practice now for almost a week.
"I feel well just condition-wise, my body weight's down so I feel good. I'm just ready to get in a game and just get some bump and grind."
Perkins also revealed that even though he was the starting center last season he wasn't very happy because he wasn't finishing games.
"I started all of the games last year that I played in but didn't play in nearly as much of the fourth quarters that I wanted to play in. A lot of games I was unhappy cuz I ain't played in the fourth quarter, probably because I didn't deserve to play so I wanna give him (Brooks) a reason that I should play in the fourth."
Perkins' minutes declined dramatically last season with the emergence of Adams and Perk admits the big Kiwi, "is playin' well. I watched Steven all summer he's been comin' in, gettin' his work in and playin' really well and he's a good dude man."
So at least publically Perkins isn't lighting any controversy fires over whether he or Adams should be introduced as the starting center.
Again with Perk it's not about starting, it's about finishing.
"Since I've been here the only thing I've been trying to embrace on the whole organization and on the young guys is just how to win. Since I've been here that's all I've been doing."
Perkins knows his future is on the line whether its here in Oklahoma City or somewhere else.
"It's a big year, once you get on the court you're not only auditioning for the Thunder you're auditioning for the other teams in the league."
Brooks didn't drop any hints with reporters as to whether he's leaning toward Perkins or Adams to be the Thunder starting center, nor did he drop any hints as to which would be finishing center in close games.
No matter the label Perk made it clear what he wants.
"All I wanna do is get an opportunity."
Brooks will certainly give him that, what the big man is able to do with it is another of this season's big unknowns.