After signing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to lucrative deals, the Thunder have agreed to a four-year, $40-million extension with power forward Serge Ibaka, according to Yahoo!Sports.com.
While Durant, Westbrook and James Harden are the offensive forces that lead OKC, Ibaka has been the defensive anchor. He’s a consistent shot-blocker that was second in Defensive Player of the Year voting for last season.
Ibaka also showed an ability to hit the 12-to-15 foot baseline jump shot, which offers some offensive relief for Oklahoma City’s “Big Three.”
At the same time, the signing of Ibaka clouds further the future of Olympian James Harden with the Thunder. There’s been rampant speculation about the possibility of Harden being moved by OKC in a determination of his impact on the cap and tax being too great. Harden has said he would love to stay in Oklahoma City, where he has teamed with Durant and Westbrook to form a potent trio of scorers.
When talk of Harden being traded emerged, Durant took to Twitter to say to his followers that Harden was not going anywhere. Translate that to mean Durant does not want to break up a team that made it to the NBA Finals.
Thunder owner Clay Bennett may decide to just extend Harden at the max, or re-sign him for the same in free agency and carry the burden of the luxury tax implications. The decision will be the Thunder’s, and it will be a significant one. The team already made one choice by re-signing Ibaka first. It could mean they already made their decision about Harden. Or, it could mean that the team is willing to pay a luxury tax to keep the team in tact with Harden. Only time will tell.