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Four more years for Perkins with Celtics

The Celtics signed Kendrick Perkins to a four-year extension yesterday worth approximately $16 million with incentives. Perkins is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract worth $1.7 million, and the club needed to make a determination about his future before Oct. 31; otherwise he would have become a restricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season.

Executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge envisions Perkins as part of the core of young players who will be a big part of the Celtics' future.

``We believe that Kendrick is a 21-year-old player who is just scratching the surface," said Ainge. ``We love his rebounding and his shot-blocking. We also love who he is. He's a player that is somewhat of a leader for our young players. We wanted to keep him around."

Before dislocating his left shoulder during practice in early February, Perkins was enjoying, by far, the best year of his career. He finished the 2005-06 season averaging 5.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocked shots.

A large part of his improved play could be attributed to increased playing time. Perkins started 40 of the 68 games in which he played and averaged 19.6 minutes, more than a 10-minute increase from the previous season.

The extension shows the confidence Ainge has in Perkins's surgically repaired left shoulder. Naturally, the organization wanted to make sure Perkins fully recovered from the arthroscopic surgery he had in late May before offering the 6-foot-10-inch forward/center an extension.

``We feel confident that his shoulder is better than ever," said Ainge.

Perkins missed a month of the season (13 games) as the injury healed. He returned to competition March 12 against Denver and played the final 20 games without any further injury to the shoulder. But during a workout in late May, his shoulder reportedly popped out and back in. At that point, the medical staff determined surgery would be the best course of action.

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