Thunder sign Nick Collison to two-year, nearly $8 million contract extension

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Update: Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:

Marc Stein of ESPN:

 

The Thunder auctioned off Nick Collison’s blood-stained shoes, which should tell you everything about his fit in Oklahoma City.

Collison has been with the franchise since it moved from Seattle, and though he’s declining at age 34, he’s still a respected member of the team and can fill the role asked. He’s averaging 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game this season – enough to draw a contract extension.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed forward Nick Collison to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We are excited that Nick Collison will continue his tenure with the Thunder. Since our arrival in 2008, Nick has helped us establish the standards on and off the floor that we work by on a day-to-day basis,” said Presti. “He has accepted various roles, demonstrated professionalism in all aspects of his craft, and shown a commitment to an organizational philosophy that is rare in sports today. Nick is the type of player that will always be valued in Oklahoma City, and we are thrilled he will continue to be a foundational member of the Thunder moving forward.”

The Thunder extended Collison’s contract in 2010, giving him a large signing bonus then reaping the cap savings in future seasons, when it was needed more. Oklahoma City could give that signing bonus only because it was under the cap in 2010. That’s no longer the case, so the Thunder can’t be quite as clever this time.

However, they can still be a little clever.

Collison, who’s making $2,242,003 this season, can get up to $5,224,500 in the first year of the extension, which kicks in next season and can last up to three years. Collison isn’t worth that much, but Oklahoma City could even pay him closer to the max possible next season and then decrease his salary up to 7.5 percent in future seasons.

The Thunder must weigh whether paying Collison more next season would put them into (or deeper into) the luxury tax vs. the desire to maximize cap space in 2016 (when Kevin Durant hits free agency) and, if this extension is long enough, 2017 (when Russell Westbrook hits free agency).

This is the third contract extension of Collison’s career, and it increases the odds he’ll never sign as a free agent. But he and the Thunder clearly fit well. Why break up a good thing?