Dating back to the early 2010’s when a 36-year-old Antoine Walker suited up with the Idaho Stampede, its been extremely commonplace for older NBA players to use the G League as an avenue to return to the Association. Since then, players like Baron Davis, Ricky Davis, Greg Ostertag and Ben Gordon, Nate Robinson and Tyler Hansbrough make their way to the G League. While most of those comeback attempts end up fizzling out, there have been some success stories.
For example, veterans Rasual Butler and Mike James (the old version) were able to successfully show the NBA that they still had something to offer. Butler spent three more years in the NBA after working in the G League while James had small stints with the Bulls and Mavericks after balling with the Texas Legends.
One player that’s hoping to follow in the foot steps of Butler and James is veteran big Kendrick Perkins. After not getting an opportunity to play in the 2016-17 season, the 13-year NBA veteran made the decision in October to make his way to the Canton Charge. Late last week, Ridiculous Upside had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Perkins about his decision to make his way to the Canton Charge, his thoughts on the Charge’s roster and if the culture of the NBA G League pushes players to just be tougher than the rest.
Ridiculous Upside: What made you decide to head to the G League after getting waived by the Cavaliers?
Kendrick Perkins: Just to keep pursuing my goal of trying to get back into the NBA and to just remain focused with a positive mindset. I just want to keep being around basketball and just to continue to play in some way.
RU: What did you think about the G League before you made your way to Canton?
KP: Everybody likes to make it out like its a bad situation but its really not, it's actually a great situation. If the pay was a little higher it would really be a great league. It's very competitive, you have great talent down here and the coaching staff is also great. The facilities are real good, I mean its obviously not up to NBA standards but its still really good.
RU: You talked about the great coaching staff, great facilitates and solid talent, how was your experiences like during training camp?
KP: It was really good, man. The group of guys that we have here makes everything easier because they're hard working and ready to go get it. We have a team full of talented guys that love to work hard, want to win, and just be around the game. My transition was easier due to being around Coach Nate (Reinking), Coach Sam Jones and Coach Melvin Ely who make it more comfortable for you because they're a group of guys that know the game real well so its really easy.
RU: Besides you, the Charge have some experienced players on the roster with John Holland and Maksym Pustozvonov, who have both been around the block as pro athletes. For a G League team that's usually filled with younger players, how important has it been to be surrounded by both players and coaches that have experience in pro basketball?
KP: I mean it really helps to have guys that are accustomed to being pros and also help the younger guys that are just coming in. It takes a lot of weight of my shoulders which means that we're all able to teach and learn together to just keep growing.
RU: In your first few weeks with the team, what are your initial impressions of two-way players John Holland and London Perrantes?
KP: Well I mean I think that they're both pro ready, John can shoot the ball really great and London is a true point guard. They've both impressed me from day 1 and I can see why they're both on two-way contracts. I give it one more year before they'll both be in the NBA.
RU: Aside from Holland and Perrantes, what other Charge have stood out to you?
KP: I think Marcus Thornton should be a pro for sure. I like Gerald Beverly because he’s a great athlete. He's a little undersized at 6'5 but he's very athletic and I think he can one day get a shot at the NBA.
RU: During your time in the NBA you were known as a tough and hard-working player. Likewise, big time G League callups like Jonathan Simmons, David Nwaba and JaMychal Green bring constant energy and toughness to their NBA team. In your short time in the league, what is it about the day-to-day grind of the G League that pushes their prospects to play with that kind of heart?
KP: It's tremendous because you got a lot of guys that are hungry and trying to reach the next level that are willing to do what ever it takes. I mean it's just night and day because you got some guys in the league that get comfortable and become divas. But you don't have that here. You have a lot of guys that are pushing and working hard day in and day out. So I think that's the big difference for me.
RU: Compared to the NBA, G Leaguers don't have the opportunity play in front of jam-packed arenas and fly in private flights. Do you think that prior experience pushes call-ups to keep working their butt off when they make it to the NBA?
KP: Oh yeah absolutely. This league makes you feel grounded and humbled. At the end of the day, that makes guys go harder. That's part of having to sacrifice, getting through it and just working. It just develops a mental toughness that you need when you make it to the next level.
RU: Your former Celtics teammate Glen Davis recently signed a deal with the NBA G League. What are your thoughts on potentially playing against someone that you won an NBA title with?
KP: It's going to be crazy. I know Big Baby is a worker and I'm happy to see him make those steps forward to get back to where he's trying to go. He's one of my brothers and we got a great relationship so I'm looking forward to playing against him. It's going to be really excited to see him back.