Perkins: ‘We’re not chasing the Lakers’
by Lang Greene, Hoopsworld.com
On paper, the Los Angeles Lakers arguably had the best offseason of any franchise in the league. The team acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in two separate trades and were able to sign free agents Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks to deals far below their preconceived market values.
After two consecutive seasons of embarrassing playoff flameouts, the Lakers have once again risen to the top of numerous preseason ranking polls as early favorites to emerge out of the Western Conference and compete for a title.
The early-season anointing has led Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to issue a reminder of the current Western Conference hierarchy the last time he checked.
“We are the Western Conference champs,” Perkins told The Oklahoman. “So at the end of the day, we’re not chasing nobody except for the ring. We’re chasing Miami to get a championship. It’s no guarantee who is going to be where. But we earned the Western champs so we’re not chasing the Lakers, we’re chasing a championship and that’s what it’s about.”
When the news of Howard going to the Lakers was made official, Perkins says it gave him more motivation to work during the summer and that it also relieved a bit of the pressure that has seemingly shifted over Los Angeles.
“I just said it’s time to go to work,” Perkins said. “I knew the hype was going to be over there on that end and all that. But I’m glad the attention is off us because we’re the type that likes to put our hard hats on and do stuff and keep it under the radar. And at the end of the day, when you look at the box score, Oklahoma won. That’s the way we like to keep it.”
Oklahoma City lost in the NBA Finals 4-1 to the Miami Heat, but the veteran center said the experience was essential for the growth of the young Thunder’s emerging core.
“Now we know what to expect,” Perkins said. “So it’s less talking and more playing on my end. We know what to expect and we know what it takes. We … [For more on Kendrick Perkins: 'We're not chasing the Lakers', click here.]