Report: Former Cavs big man is ‘strong contender’ to get promotion at ESPN

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cleveland Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins is potentially set to become a beneficiary of ESPN’s recent round of layoffs by possibly joining the network’s “NBA Countdown” program.

Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports indicated that Perkins could potentially fill the spot of Jalen Rose on the show after Rose became one of the network’s layoff casualties.

“Kendrick Perkins’ star keeps rising at ESPN,” McCarthy wrote.

“The NBA analyst is a ‘strong contender’ to become a full-time member of the network’s national ‘NBA Countdown’ studio show, sources told Front Office Sports.

“The former NBA champion with the Boston Celtics could fill the seat made open by last Friday’s layoff of long-time ‘Countdown’ analyst Jalen Rose, said sources.”

Since his retirement from the NBA, Perkins has established himself during previous appearances on ESPN. His blunt, unsparing opinions also include social media remarks that have sometimes grated on the people he’s criticized.

Perkins’ two short stints with the Cavaliers came in 2015 and 2018. In the latter instance, he made just one regular season appearance but provided veteran leadership during the Cavs’ fourth straight trip to the Finals.

The lengthy NBA career of Perkins began in 2003 when the Memphis Grizzlies made him the 27th overall selection of that year’s draft. That same night, he was part of a trade package that made him a member of the Boston Celtics.

During his tenure with the Celtics, Perkins developed into an integral part of the team’s starting lineup. In 2008, he was part of the first Celtics team in more than two decades to capture an NBA title.

The Celtics also reached the 2010 NBA Finals with Perkins but fell in seven games to the Los Angeles Lakers. The following February, he was dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder and helped that franchise reach the 2012 NBA Finals.

Perkins’ fearless style has resulted in comparisons to NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who delivers his blunt opinions on TNT broadcasts. Though the two players never met on the court, they have engaged in some verbal scuffles over their respective opinions.

Earlier this year, Barkley criticized Perkins for the latter’s claim that racial bias existed in the NBA’s MVP voting. On the other side, Perkins has attacked Barkley’s criticism of Kevin Durant’s legacy by noting that none of Barkley’s NBA teams ever won a league title.

Such back-and-forth bickering garners publicity for both networks. In the case of Perkins, ESPN has shown a particular penchant for embracing controversial remarks from commentators such as Stephen A. Smith.

In the end, Perkins’ comments about basketball will undoubtedly continue to be blunt. However, they now appear to be ready to be spoken from a higher profile.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.