MIAMI - Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins said he has talked with former Celtics teammate Kevin Garnett and believes the 17-year veteran wants to return to the NBA next season.
Garnett did not speak with the media after the Celtics’ Game 7 loss to the Heat June 9 and has given no hint of his plans next season. He hugged Doc Rivers after exiting Game 7 and gave the coach a pat on the head, moving Rivers nearly to tears.
Garnett is an unrestricted free agent and could re-sign with the Celtics or test the market and be courted by teams for the first time in his career. Garnett has never been an unrestricted free agent.
“I feel like if he does return to basketball, I think that that would be the team,’’ Perkins said of the Celtics. “I heard Kevin say a few times that he wouldn’t want to play for anybody but Doc, so it will be interesting to see. I still think he got a lot more years in him. He got a lot of love for the game and it would be hard to see Kevin walk away from the game right now.’’
When asked if he sensed Garnett wanted to keep playing, Perkins said, “I do. I think he found some kind of new life, what do you call it? The fountain of youth, just how he’s been playing over these last couple of games in the playoffs and in the regular season, he’s almost a 20-10 guy. I hope he does come back. It’s good for the NBA. He’s still an icon in the league and you just like to see what he brings to the table.’’
Learning from bench
It’s been more than two months since the Thunder’s Reggie Jackson logged a minute, April 13 when he played six minutes in a 115-89 victory over the Kings. Since then, Jackson has been mostly inactive and his rookie season has turned into more of a watch-and-learn experience.
The acquisition of Derek Fisher cut into the minutes of the former Boston College standout, Oklahoma City’s first-round pick last June. When Eric Maynor tore his right anterior cruciate ligament two weeks into the regular season, Jackson’s role was expected to increase, and it did as he played double-digit minutes in 21 of the next 26 games. But when Fisher arrived, Jackson’s role shrunk, so much so that he’s spent the playoffs on the inactive list.
“It’s just been very up and down and hectic,’’ he said. “But it’s been a great experience for me, fun.’’
Jackson has struggled with his shot, shooting 32.1 percent, and 21 percent from the 3-point line. A shooting guard at BC, Jackson has been projected as a point guard in the NBA and the adjustment has been slow.
“It was tough [at first] to see but I think everything happens for a reason,’’ he said. “I feel like this organization has a plan for me, so it’s easy to go ahead and go forward. I’ve been seeing myself improve. I have a lot more confidence in little things in my game and I feel like I can make a difference this summer and maybe next season.’’
Turning up the volume
It should be a quite a contrast in crowds Sunday as the series shifts from raucous Chesapeake Energy Arena to laid-back AmericanAirlines Arena, a crowd that is traditionally tepid and late-arriving. The Heat players are banking on a difficult atmosphere for the Thunder for the next three games.
“I think that’s been our focus, is to make sure this place in here is a place that we feel comfortable playing,’’ guard Dwyane Wade said. “It’s a place that it’s tough to play. Our fans have been great. A lot of stuff has been said about our fans, and it will always be said about our fans, but they’re our fans. We love them. We appreciate them. And Game 7 last time we played here [against the Celtics] was the loudest I’ve heard it here in a very, very long time.
“We love our fans and I think they’re excited about this game [Sunday], and I think they’re going to be as loud as they can possibly be.’’