Thabo Sefolosha had been solidified as a starter for the Oklahoma City Thunder in his first five and a half seasons with the team, coming off the bench just once in 390 regular season appearances.
But this postseason was different. Scott Brooks used a better scorer and more athletic player in Reggie Jackson over the defensive-minded Sefolosha, who was essentially relegated to the bench for the last four games of the Western Conference Finals, save for some garbage time work in Game 5.
Sefolosha is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the prospect of him returning to Oklahoma City is anything but certain.
“It was very frustrating,” Sefolosha said during his exit interview on Sunday afternoon. “It’s never easy. I would say the last month has been a little frustrating.”
“It’s just tough,” Sefolosha said. “You’ve got a lot of questions, like, why and what is the thought process necessarily behind it? Things like that. You just stick with the plan, stick with your teammates.”
“I have no clue,” Sefolosha said when asked if he expected to be back. “I’m going to have to take some time to think about a lot of things.”
If the Thunder plan on continuing with Jackson in the starting lineup (or even Caron Butler, as the team did in a couple of games against the Grizzlies), then it would probably best to let Sefolosha walk in free agency.
OKC has found its third reliable scoring option in Serge Ibaka, whose midrange game has become especially important when the offense breaks down and defenses force either Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook to make some difficult decisions. But they need reliable scoring off the bench.
In Game 6 against the Spurs, for example, all five bench points came from Derek Fisher, and Durant, Westbrook, Jackson and Ibaka were all forced to play way too many minutes because of that lack of offense from the reserves.
Sefolosha is a defensive specialist whose time with this Thunder team has passed. He needs to move on to play somewhere he can be properly utilized, and OKC needs to replace him with a reliable scoring option to improve the squad for next season.