Oklahoma City's starting lineup will take a new form for the foreseeable future, if not by any choice of head coach Scott Brooks. Kendrick Perkins, who has started at center for 54 of the Thunder's 57 games this season, reportedly underwent surgery to address a left groin strain, per Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. Perkins' recovery will rule him out of action for the next six weeks, potentially spanning 20 games.
That leaves Perkins a brief opportunity to work his way back into the lineup over the final few games of the regular season, though his current timetable leaves little room for complication or delay. Whether that will be an issue in the postseason remains to be seen, as Perkins' playoff utility is very much matchup dependent. Were the Thunder to play against the Warriors, Mavs, or Suns -- currently the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds, respectively -- in a potential playoff series, Perkins would be of marginal value. But if the Grizzlies were to creep into the postseason picture, Perkins would be quite valuable in obstructing either Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol. Ditto for players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, or Dwight Howard, were the matchups to break that way in the second round or otherwise.
In the interim, though, the Thunder should be just fine in getting by without Perkins. His injury is unfortunate, but overall Oklahoma City has been far better when relying on players other than Perkins. Brooks will likely plug in Steven Adams as an interim starter, though he could opt to go slightly smaller to start games by shifting Kevin Durant to power forward or subbing in Perry Jones. Virtually all of those options are preferable to Perkins, as the now-injured center's time on the floor has to this point coincided with an 8.2-point swing in favor of Thunder opponents. Brooks had somewhat mitigated that damage by keeping Perkins' minutes down in particularly poor matchups and decreasing his playing time overall, but only so much can be done to address the fact that Perkins is a complete non-factor offensively. Over the course of this season, Perkins has averaged 3.4 points and 5.0 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game -- his lowest average playing time since the 2005-06 season.