Perk: 'My spot is not up for grabs'

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics center Kendrick Perkins was nearing the end of an eight-minute Q&A with reporters that produced some of the biggest laughs of Monday's media day when a reporter asked Perkins if he thought he'd have to fight for his job when he returned to the lineup following offseason knee surgery.

Perkins got serious for a moment.

"I really don't want to answer this question because I don't want to start nothing," he said. "But, really, my spot is not up for grabs. So when I come back I will be in my spot, everybody else will just have to adjust to me after that."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers is fond of noting that everyone says the right thing this time of year, but that opinions often change when the ball goes up. Perkins provided a refreshing blast of blunt honesty, highlighting the day's proceedings with an assertion that his job isn't in any sort of jeopardy.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge raised some eyebrows during a conference call following Shaquille O'Neal's introduction in August when he suggested the opposite.

“I’m sure Perk’s going to be worried and nervous since we are going to win games with this front line even when he’s not playing," Ainge said then. "I’ll be sitting with and talking with Kendrick throughout this whole process and hopefully he can just focus on getting healthy and competing for his job back.”

With Perkins sidelined, the Celtics will insert either Shaq or Jermaine O'Neal into the lineup, which Ainge has suggested will be the case until near the All-Star break.

Perkins expressed optimism that his return date might be sooner following a solid summer of rehab.

"I'm feeling good. I've got a smile on my face, so I'm feeling great," said Perkins. "Everything has been going in a positive direction lately. Rehab is going great.

"I can't tell you when my return date is going to be, but I'm a little bit ahead of schedule. I don't want to jinx myself, but it's going really well."

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