Those 2007-08 Celtics share a bond that won’t be broken, so it wasn’t surprising to see Leon Powe waiting in the visiting locker room for Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to get dressed.
“Sometimes you just need a reality check,” said Perkins, who has worked through his share of ups and downs in Oklahoma City, coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-94 win over his former team. “Sometimes people you love just have to put you in place and talk to you, and that’s all you need at times, is just that one person to talk to.
“I go to a lot of people, man,” he added. “I talk to [Kevin Garnett] a lot. I talk to [Rajon] Rondo a lot. KG is the one who tells me the truth all the time. He’s going to tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not.”
Rondo wouldn’t share exactly what he and he and his former teammate discuss. “I can’t really say what we talk about, really. He told me some things, too, but I won’t put him on blast.”
Perkins is a little more forthcoming about their relationship. They became best friends as the young tandem that filled out a starting five that featured Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, so when Perkins was dealt to OKC for Jeff Green at the 2011 trade deadline, it taught them both a less in NBA business. Still, they remain thick as thieves.
Naturally, as Perkins and Rondo approach unrestricted free agency for the first time in their careers, their conversations occasionally focus on the future. “I think it’s a great place for him,” Perkins told reporters prior to the game. “I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay. If I was him, I’d stay.”
Rondo didn’t disagree. “That’s about accurate,” said the Celtics captain. “From Media Day in the beginning, that’s what I said initially, so … my perspective hasn’t changed, and I love being a Celtic.”
Asked if Rondo was enjoying the spotlight with his own supporting cast, showcasing his talent without Garnett, Pierce and Allen sharing the stage, Perkins said, “I think he is. This is a great opportunity for him, the way he’s been playing, flirting with a triple-double. He’s just got to teach. It’s a learning process, but he’s got some nice pieces around him. He’s just got to keep building and playing well. It’s a good situation for him.”
Indeed, Rondo is averaging 11.3 assists, 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in six appearances this season, showing he’s capable of starring in the show, even if he isn’t yet satisfied after returning from the broken bone in his left hand.
“This is around Game 6 for me, so it’s still kind of preseason, but everything counts, so I’m still trying to get my rhythm, my wind, and my timing with my teammates,” he said. “So, I’m still a long way from where I want to be.”
Whether or not the Rondo-centric Celtics become a long-running production in Boston remains to be seen, but Perkins raved in his review after his first viewing of the latest version of the C’s.
“I think they’re at the level now where they should be looking to make the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve got a pretty decent squad — pretty solid for the East.” Considering Perkins becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and the unbreakable bond he shares with Rondo, the possibility remains he could return this summer, reversing roles as the elder statesmen on a Celtics team once again hoping to restore glory in the Garden. “If the opportunity presents itself, I will, but you never know,” Perkins added. “It’s not on me. You have to be wanted to come back.”