Perkins Won’t Return Next Season

He has coolly swished countless clutch jumpers in Seattle while being a fixture in the community. Now this popular player says he won’t return after this season.

No, not Nate McMillan. Sam Perkins, the cool Sonic, is the latest to reveal his impending retirement.

“Nate has said what he’s going to do,” the 36-year-old Perkins said this week. “As far as me, I know I’m not going to be here next year.”

The decision by the 6-foot-10 forward/center, who’s played five seasons with the Sonics, stemmed from a combination of the Sonics salary structure, the direction he sees the team headed, injuries and age.

“As hard as it is to sign one guy here now, I know I ain’t going to be signed again,” said Perkins, who will earn $3.27 million this season. “So I know this is my last year here.”

Perkins seems almost as certain he won’t play elsewhere.

General manager Wally Walker appeared surprised.

“Sam is still a very effective player,” Walker said. “We just have to see what happens this year and how he’s feeling.”

“They won’t ask me to come back,” Perkins said.

If they do? “I won’t come back.”

“He just brought leadership here,” said McMillan, who told The Times this week he would retire after this season. “He brought an intelligence. For so long we’ve had big men who just didn’t know how to play the big-man role.”

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