Kendrick Perkins remains a close friend of Rajon Rondo and the former teammates have kept in touch on a regular basis ever since the big man was shipped to Oklahoma City in 2011. With the Thunder in town last night to face the Celtics, Perkins was given the chance to talk to reporters prior to the game about why he believes Rondo should stay in Boston.
"I think it's a great place for him. I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay," explained Perkins. "If I was him, I'd stay."
That led to an amusing moment when a reporter cracked that Perkins didn't stay, to which Perkins replied with a rare smile that he didn't have a choice. That got a good laugh from the surrounding crowd, but he wasn't kidding. Perkins never wanted to leave Boston. Despite the fact that he went to Oklahoma City to join an elite team that has been a title contender ever since he got there, it's clear that Perkins still misses his time in Boston.
Perhaps Perkins is urging his friend to stay because he knows how hard it was for him to leave. Or he may actually consider this young Celtics team as the best situation for Rondo.
"I think it's the perfect situation for him," said Perkins. "He's got a good group of young guys around him, a good young coach. It's his team, he's able to play the way he's capable of playing, and he's almost averaging a triple-double."
Granted it's still early in the season, but nearly averaging a triple-double with 10.8 points, 11.3 assists and 8.2 rebounds is a pretty impressive feat. If he manages to keep up anything resembling that pace, he'll be putting himself in a great position to cash in when he reaches free agency this summer. Numbers like that seem worthy of a max contract.
As Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry points out in his discussion of the evolution of Rondo, the four-time All-Star is still trying to shake the perception that he's a poor shooter. He explains that the data from Rondo's shot chart actually shows he has become a very effective mid-range shooter, hitting at a well above average rate of 50.4% from around the elbows during the 2012-13 season. The ACL tear he suffered in January of that season set him back, but Rondo is finally getting back to where he left off before the injury. So far this season he's hitting 50% of his shots from the 10-19 foot range and has even raised his three-point percentage to a fairly respectable 38.5%.
If the rest of the league still perceives Rondo's shooting as a liability, it limits his value. That could make it less likely that any team would match the reportedly sky-high price that Celtics GM Danny Ainge has been insisting on from anyone that comes calling for his star point guard. Other teams may also see that as a reason not to offer Rondo a full max contract when he reaches free agency this summer, but the Celtics should know better.
It's up to the Celtics to offer him a new contract if they want to keep him around to lead an improving young core of players. Perkins expressed his optimism over Boston's young talent, including Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk - although he couldn't pronounce Olynyk's name, referring to him as "the young kid with the long hair."
If the Celtics do decide that Rondo is worth the type of contract he'll demand and they still see him as the future leader of this franchise, will Rondo take his friend's advice and stay here in Boston?
Rondo agrees with Perkins: "Regardless of what's going on in the season, my perspective hasn't changed. I love being a Celtic."— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) November 13, 2014
It sure doesn't seem like his tune has changed from what he's been claiming all along. Maybe it doesn't even require any convincing from Perkins to get Rondo to stay. But the advice of a trusted friend never hurts.