We Want Big Perk!
During the last three years of covering the Thunder, there has been one constant at home games; hardly anyone cheers when Billy Donovan is announced at the end of the starting lineups. Not that Donovan was a lousy coach, quite the opposite, but he was never fully embraced by fans.
Chances are when Sam Presti hires the new Oklahoma City head coach; they will have the same reaction as Donovan—met with a smattering of applause. For the exception of Gregg Popovich, there isn't one coach that's bigger than any player in his franchise.
With this in mind, I decided to come up with a list of five candidates the Thunder probably won't hire but would win the press conference and get fans excited enough to ride shotgun for what could be a lengthy rebuilding process.
Today we'll focus former Thunder center, Kendrick Perkins.
Why It Will Work: Perk may be more of a media choice than a fan choice because the press conferences would be epic. Ever since joining the ranks of ESPN, Perkins has been a breath of fresh air.
He never pulls his punches, he's entertaining, and he's willing to hash it with Kevin Durant on Twitter. Presti loved him so much he gave him 36 million dollars. Plus, since it's his first job any arguments over the roster, he's probably willing to concede to Presti.
Coming out of the booth won't be an easy transition; however, he's 35 and last played two years ago. Plus, his work as an analyst at the network level allows him to see every player in the NBA.
He is still well connected with former teammates who are both in an out of the association, so if he needs intel on how a guy would fit in the locker room or what parts of his game that needs working on, that information will be right at his fingertips.
To some extent, this would also be a redemption story. Perkins was traded in the 2014-2015 season due to the emergence of Steven Adams, so he wasn't on board when Oklahoma City blew a 3-1 lead to Golden State.
Perkins told The Athletic back in April, "There's no way in hell we would have blown that. I'm not saying because of me playing; I am saying just my locker room presence." Since his departure in 2015, Perkins has become a fan favorite. Instead of seeing him as an offensive liability, they now appreciate him for being the liaison between Russell Westbrook and Durant.
Why It Will Never Happen: The main reason the Thunder wouldn't make this move is that Perk would be too honest with the media. For an organization that plays things close to the vest, they need a guy who will have a "Keep calm and carry on" demeanor.
Even though hiring would be a home run with the fans, Presti isn't concerned about creating a few weeks of excitement over sacrificing for the bigger picture. It's not unrealistic to think Perkins might get a chance to help out in the front office at some point, but, hed coach or even TV color analyst, he's outspoken for either role.
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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past seven seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.