The Cavaliers didn’t re-sign one of their worst players last summer. Instead, they signed a more-talented, younger replacement – paying more money, including a higher luxury-tax bill, for the upgrade.
They were highly pissed. I knew this for a fact. They were highly ticked off, this team, when the team didn’t re-sign Kendrick Perkins and they ended up picking up over the summer Sasha Kaun – a 29-, 30-year-old rookie who has not really played at all and I don’t really think is ready for the NBA.
So, he’s collecting about $2 million right now a season and not even playing. Kendrick Perkins would’ve been brought back for the veteran’s minimum.
Players – I know for a fact, I talked to them – they were highly ticked off about that, not bringing him back. Because it wasn’t about his numbers. It was about the intangibles, the emotional leadership and the enforcer, the enforcement role he brought to the team.
The problem with Perkins, who signed with the Pelicans, is that he’s a great teammate and has become a liability on the court. He lacks polish offensively, and his declining athleticism prevents him from defending effectively.
Maybe the Cavs would be better off with Perkins riding their bench rather than Kaun, who has played just 14 games and is actually making just $1,276,000 this season. But remember, Tristan Thompson didn’t sign until shortly before the season. Cleveland couldn’t afford to waste a roster spot on an unproductive big man.
The Cavaliers’ problem isn’t that they lost Perkins. It’s that they believe losing Perkins was a problem.
They’re one of the NBA’s most veteran teams. LeBron James, Richard Jefferson, Mo Williams and James Jones can’t instill a culture of accountability and toughness? Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving still need their hands held by someone like Perkins?
The players need to accept responsibility, not get worked up about the loss of Perkins.
Of course, this also leaves Kaun in an uncomfortable spot through no fault of his own. He might not be NBA ready, but it’s at least possible he becomes a helpful low-post threat once he acclimates to the league. He’s under contract for next season, too.
But maybe before that happens, he’ll take the brunt of the blame for the Cavs’ problems and get cast aside – just like his former Russian national team coach.