WALTHAM -- Even though Kendrick Perkins remains with the Celtics, no player on the current roster may have been more affected by the offseason changes created by two trades and free agency than the 22-year-old center. No longer one of the more experienced players on a young team, Perkins expects to do a lot more listening, rather than leading, in the locker room as he learns from new veteran All-Star teammates Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Above all, Perkins doesn't want to take his current situation for granted and hopes his teammates think about a team loaded with talent the same way. Perkins plans to be an integral part of what he believes should be a run to the NBA Finals.
"I've got to be able to give my best every night," said Perkins, fully recovered from the left foot plantar fasciitis that sidelined him for a spell and prevented him from playing at top form during the second half of last season. "I'm excited about this season and I'm trying to put my all into it. This is a blessed opportunity to be on a team with Paul [Pierce], Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen."
To that end, Perkins has spent a lot of time at the Celtics' practice facility, working on his conditioning, strength, and 15-foot shot and returning for only brief stays to his hometown of Beaumont, Texas. He also has tried not to dwell on the loss of Al Jefferson, whom he still calls his "right-hand man." Perkins has spoken once with Jefferson since the trade that sent the power forward to Minnesota for Garnett a little more than two weeks ago.
"I'd be lying if I said [watching Jefferson leave] was easy," said Perkins. "I think about it every day. I know we made a decision for right now. We got a great deal on our end with KG, but on the other side, Minnesota got a great deal for the future. For real. We got the best, but we gave up a lot. The sky's the limit for those guys [who went to Minnesota].
"Honestly, they're way better than what I'll ever be. I've still got a long ways to go and I'm still young in this league, too. But I just think Gerald [Green] and Al, especially, their potential is on another level from everybody else.
"It all depends what they do. They've just got to stay hungry. But on the other side of it, we've got to move forward. We've got to concentrate on our goals. We can't live in the past."
According to Perkins, Jefferson struggled in the days after the deal.
"He didn't take it too good," said Perkins. "I think he's doing a little bit better with it now. After he talked with the personnel, owners, and stuff in Minnesota, he was more comfortable."
"I saw in [Danny Ainge's] eyes when he made the trade that it hurt him to give up Al. I was right here when we all put in a lot of time to see [Jefferson] develop. He's still my boy no matter what, but we're on separate teams."