Kendrick Perkins: If players are involved in betting, then Adam Silver needs to be over-the-top harsh

With March Madness in full swing, you may have seen a funny AT&T commercial that showcases Kendrick Perkins, Carmelo Anthony, and TJ Ford, players from the 2003 NBA Draft. In partnership with AT&T, Perk took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk with HoopsHype about a wide range of topics including the brewing sport betting scandals, Draymond Green, Boston Celtics, and more.

Do you think Jalen Brunson is the best PG right now? How far do you think the Knicks can go this season?

KP: If the Knicks were healthy – that means having Julius Randle, OG Anunoby back in the lineup – the Knicks could actually go to the NBA Finals. They’re equipped to win now. They got great depth. Their defense is ferocious. They play with a tenacity like no other, led by Tom Thibodeau. But right now – and I call them the Villanova boys with the three-headed monster led by Jalen Brunson – I wouldn’t be surprised if they reached the Conference Finals if they could get to the No. 2 or 3 seed and prevent from seeing the Celtics in the second-round matchup. When it comes to the Knicks, they have an identity on both sides of the floor. You either have to have superior talent on your team to beat them in a seven-game series, or you better be ready to match their physicality.

They Celtics blow a lot of teams out in the regular season, but in the playoffs, games get tight and they don’t have a lot of experience being in too many close games this season. Do you think that could be problematic for them in the postseason?

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

KP: Well, we will see. I’ve been saying this all season long… nothing that the Celtics do in the regular season is going to impress me. Their season actually starts April 20. So, I have to see if Kristaps Porzingis is gonna be able to hold up health-wise. Is he gonna be able to play at a 20 and 10 status every single night? When he has to match up with a guy like Giannis [Antetokounmpo], is he gonna be able to hold his own because that’s gonna be key. And also, Jayson Tatum, him and Jaylen Brown, in close games, can they be those guys to close out those close games and be able to go toe-to-toe. That’s what it’s gonna be based on.

We know that they have elite perimeter play. We get that with Tatum, Brown, Jrue Holiday, and Derrick White on both sides of the ball, and then depth,,, Is Payton Pritchard gonna be that guy that’s gonna come in off the bench consistently, and be able to average 12 to 15 points in a series? Cause they gonna need him to. Is Luke Kornet gonna be that guy that they can use in the rotation, how is he going to hold up? So they have some question marks and they’re vulnerable in a lot of places. They’re so powerful in other places that cover the places that they are vulnerable in.

I saw a stat that had Jayson Tatum with the lowest field goal percentage during crunch time for superstars. This has been going on for a couple of seasons now, but when the game gets tight they do a lot of iso with Tatum and Jaylen Brown. It starts to get very predictable for opposing teams with what the Celtics plan to run. What do you think they should do in crunch time to maybe not be so predictable against other teams?

KP: Well, I think sometimes you gotta run misdirection and other times, you might have to run plays for other players. You do have Jrue Holiday on the roster, he’s battle-tested, and you do have Derrick White. Doc Rivers used to always say just because I draw up your play doesn’t mean it’s your shot. And I think the world has painted this narrative that if superstars don’t take the last shot, they don’t have a killer mindset and that’s not the case. We have seen time and time again when LeBron James passed up on shots and got great shots for others, wide-open looks.

Look, you gotta get to the point as a coach where you trust every single person that you have on the floor. If you go back and look at what Robert Horry did for so many teams. Kobe and Shaq, think about the big shot that Robert Horry hit against the Sacramento Kings. Role players have stepped up tremendously in the playoffs when it came down to winning games. Derek Fisher, we saw the shot in the series against the San Antonio Spurs. I think it’s the trust factor that the coach has to have and the others along with your superstars or the franchise guys have trust in those players as well.

As a former player, what sorts of things do you know that might be good in the regular season, but you know it won’t translate to the playoffs?

During the time you played in your career, you were known to be an enforcer. Do you think what Draymond Green is doing on the court crosses the line or do you think it’s necessary in that role?

KP: It’s a mixture of both, and it’s hard because you don’t ever want Draymond to change, right? That mindset, his tenacity is what made him. Being drafted in the second round, having to prove himself being a dog. I always say that Steph Curry is the best player on that team, but Draymond Green is the heart and soul of that team.

Now, with that being said, there comes a time where it could be a bit excessive and that’s something that Draymond has to control. Because at this point, you’re not a young guy, you’re a veteran, you’re a multiple All-Star, NBA champion. So, you know better. Draymond is a very intelligent guy and he has the respect of the referees. So he’s allowed to get away with a little bit more and rightfully so. He’s earned that respect because he probably does have a relationship with the majority of the refs. But, he’s battle-tested enough – four-time NBA champion – you know, you can’t ask him to change. He is who he is and that’s not a bad thing.

You recently said KD needs to get uncomfortable and be more vocal and a leader with the Suns. You spent four and a half years with Kevin Durant in OKC. From your perspective, has he changed much?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

KP: Well, Kevin Durant is always gonna lead by example. He’s gonna be the gym rat, he’s gonna put the work in, he’s gonna come out and be one of the best scorers to ever touch the basketball. He’s gonna do that, but what the Suns need is a guy that has won two NBA championships, has made four NBA Finals appearances, two Finals MVPs, to actually get uncomfortable. Because when you see a team that’s a veteran team like that, that has been inconsistent, that means there’s not a real voice in the locker room. And KD has the resume, he has the credentials to be that voice. And whether that be calling guys out or lifting guys up, in order for the Phoenix Suns to take that next step, he has to be uncomfortable. And I said this about him a month ago, the Phoenix Suns haven’t had a leader since Chris Paul left. That doesn’t mean a guy that’s not gonna go out there and produce numbers and do what he do, but an actual leader. That’s why they’re one of the worst fourth-quarter teams, if not the worst fourth-quarter team in the league. That comes with leadership.

With all the sports betting scandals going on right now like the Shohei Ohtani situation or Jontay Porter one, how should we regulate it?

KP: It’s hard because it’s all over the place, right? You’re in group messages, you may have friends that’s texting it, you see it all over the place and on television. You can’t go nowhere without seeing sports betting, whether its FanDuel, DraftKings, ESPN Bet. The one person in Toronto (Jontay Porter), I think it’s an ongoing investigation, but if they found out that he was doing that, then Adam Silver and the NBA, you have to come down and make a statement. Meaning the penalty has to be over-the-top harsh. It has to be so harsh that a guy, a player doesn’t even think about it. Like if it’s in front of them, they run from it. So I think that’s the only way to set the tone and the only way to set the bar. You can do the policies or whatever, but you gotta be so harsh that guys are like, ‘No, I’m staying as far away from that as possible.’ I’m talking about to the point where guys are hesitant to walk in the casino to play cards or whatever, like you gotta be that harsh really.

How do you think you would have dealt with social media like it is now if you played?

Kendrick Perkins
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

KP: I wouldn’t have. I wouldn’t have it. It could harm a team because it’s gonna be in your face, so guys will go to their lockers at halftime and you could see on social media what people are saying about you. So, me personally, I wouldn’t recommend it, and if you do do it, only do it if it’s business-related.

We’ve seen LeBron James do it plenty of times where he goes dark, and he takes a break from social media, right when the postseason comes, that’s his way of locking in. That’s his way of blocking out the outside noise, and to each his own. For me personally, I will stay far away from it especially when you talk about the postseason. It’s a lot of highs and lows and the thing about being a professional athlete is that you wanna be even-keeled.


Can you talk about the March Madness campaign you’re doing with AT&T in ‘Boxy Boys’?

Kendrick Perkins: Well, the draft always is combined with March Madness, because a lot of guys, their draft status rise in March Madness. Stars are born, those one shining moments, and then to be doing a commercial with Carmelo Anthony, who actually won the NCAA tournament, and who actually was a star throughout that whole March Madness as a freshman, it was great. When you think about the 2003 draft with the Boxy Boys and the big suits that we wore, it looked like we had football shoulder pads underneath, with the baggy style and you think about that, it just all relates and all coexist.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype