Serge Ibaka and the Oklahoma City Thunder have reached an agreement on a four-year, $40 million contract extension, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ibaka was scheduled to be a restricted free agent next summer, but instead he’ll likely be with the Thunder for the next few years.
The 22-year-old big man has emerged as one of the league’s top defenders since being drafted by the organization No. 24 overall in 2008. Ibaka led the league with 3.7 blocks per game last season while averaging 9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds. He also has not missed a game in the last two seasons.
The extension means that the Thunder will now have Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Ibaka locked up for the foreseeable future. Durant and Westbrook, the team’s two top players, were already signed through the 2015-2016 season. But the contract puts the future of James Harden in question.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year will be a restricted free agent after next season and will almost assuredly receive a max contract offer. The defending Western Conference champions already have around $50 million in salary committed for the 2013-2014 season (not including Ibaka’s new salary), so they would have to get creative in order to afford Harden. One option could be releasing center Kendrick Perkins through the amnesty provision after next season. Perkins has three years and $25.4 million remaining on his deal.
Whatever Oklahoma City decides to do, the choice to extend Ibaka shows how much they value his presence on the team.
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