Over the past three seasons, since LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the wine and gold have made a late-season signing, adding a 15th player to their roster ahead of their postseason run. For the past two years, it’s been Dahntay Jones. It was never meant to be a signee that provided much in the box score, but one that helps the Cavs make a run at the Finals, and maybe, just maybe, win it all.
While Jones (surprisingly) did provide some quality playing time in 2016 and 2017, this year’s late-season signee isn’t expected to do so. When the Cavs signed Kendrick Perkins following their last regular season game, he knew that he would never dress for a game, let alone see the court during Cleveland’s run at a fourth straight Finals appearance. With that said, both he and the Cavs knew that the big man could provide plenty of help to the Cavs, even if fans may only see him in a suit on the bench during games.
That became even more apparent both before and after Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers. Before the game, Perk—who spent his 2017-18 season with Cavs’ G-League affiliate Canton Charge in order to prove to NBA teams that he can still play—was seen doing pre-game work with rookie center Ante Zizic.
Perk and Zizic putting in work for Game 1 before they even turned the lights on in the arena. pic.twitter.com/l1HTiYrd8T
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 15, 2018
Even before the majority of the lights came on inside Quicken Loans Arena, the two were seen crafting their game, with the veteran being a mentor to the rookie. While Zizic surprised many with his play late in the season, he isn’t expected to see significant minutes in the postseason. But that doesn’t mean he can’t continue to craft his skills, especially in the paint, as he looks to secure playing time in the future.
It’s not just Zizic either. While at the game, I noticed that Kevin Love went to Perk a handful of advice. The big man has plenty of experience and is just trying to do his best to help his teammates succeed. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Why does this say so much about the kind of player Perkins is? He knows he won’t actually be able to provide any on-court statistics for the Cavs unless something catastrophic takes place, but the big man still continues to help his current teammates improve. Not only that, but he seems to be one heckuva leader (and realist) in the locker room as well, something that may be much needed on a team with so many new faces.1 Perkins made sure to let the new guys know that it’s just one game and the wine and gold still have plenty of time to not only fix things going forward but to win the series as well.
Kendrick Perkins showed his value in the locker room following the game. He was a sounding board for LBJ and also let the new guys know, "ain't nobody tripping on no one f***in game bruh."
— Emmett Golden (@egoldie80) April 15, 2018
Every team, no matter what sport or level, must have players that know their rules if that want to have any success. Perk knows his role. It isn’t to provide big numbers in the box score; it’s to be a veteran and a player that the young, inexperienced players can not only go to for advice but to be a voice of confidence in the locker room as well.
So far, he is doing just that. Maybe, just maybe, he will add another ring to his hand as well, even though he will have watched every postseason game from the bench while donning a suit.
- Keep in mind, there are just four players left on the team from the 2016 championship run. [↩]