The Thunder who already locked up their superstar back-court tandem of Kevin Durant and Russle Westbrook until after the 2016 and 2017 seasons respectively, announced today their exciting news of re-signing power forward Serge Ibaka. The 22-year-old Ibaka who was runner-up in defensive player of the year, is already entering his 4th NBA season this year. Last year he finished as the league-leader in shot-blocking as well as achieving his first All-Defensive 1st Team honors. Ibaka who was the defensive anchor for OKC during their impressive 2012 playoffs run eliminating The Mavs, Lakers and Spurs, has a huge upside being young and gifted athletically great defender which is hard to find in today’s NBA.
This signing now puts the Thunder general manager Sam Presti in an awkward position as his 2012 6th man of the year, James Harden will become a restricted free agent if the two parties cannot agree to an extension before the league’s October 31st deadline. Harden’s believed to be looking for a max-deal but Thunder management hope to sign him for less than the max to avoid heavy luxury tax penalties following next season.
With the signing of Ibaka first, OKC may have already made their decision on the Harden situation but only time will tell whether the team is willing to pay the luxury tax most teams including those in the big market aren’t willing to to do.