The Oklahoma City Thunder are officially one of the top tier teams in the NBA. After destroying the competition throughout the regular season, the Thunder were able to continue their dominance during the NBA playoffs in order to pave the way to the first NBA Finals appearance for the franchise since the move from Seattle, Washington.
Even though the season ended on a sour note with the Miami Heat crushing the Thunder in five games, Oklahoma City has a bright future ahead with promising young talent and a legitimate superstar leading the way in the form of three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant.
With Durant and Russell Westbrook under contract for the next five years, the next order of business is locking up James Harden and Serge Ibaka to long-term deals.
Although Harden’s contract extension may be held off until after next season, the Thunder’s front office has taken care of one of their best defenders by signing Ibaka to a four-year contract extension according to ESPN.com:
“Ibaka posted on Twitter that he was happy for the chance to play for the Thunder for five more years. Presti didn’t provide details of the contract, citing team policy, but a league source confirmed to ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that the deal is for four additional years and $48 million.”
With Ibaka, Westbrook and Durant in the fold, all efforts by the Thunder from here on out in terms of moves to be made will be trying to find a way to make room for a similar extension for Harden. It’s been rumored that the team might not be able to afford to keep Harden after next season and that he may be headed elsewhere via free agency as a result.
It remains to be seen whether or not Harden ultimately leaves Oklahoma City for a lucrative deal with another team, but it may be a distinct possibility if a deal can’t be made sooner rather than later with the Thunder.
As for Ibaka, he’s been worth every penny of the new contract extension as the league’s premier shot-blocker. Last season, Ibaka led the league in blocks with a total of 241 and a franchise-record of 3.65 blocks per game.