The Oklahoma Thunder are locking up their core. They got Russell Westbrook to sign an extension (for one more year, but still that’s a start). They agreed to terms with Victor Oladipo at a fair price, below what he likely would have earned on the market next summer.
And — as had been expected all day — they are locking up big man Steven Adams, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports and since confirmed by other sources.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and center Steven Adams are finalizing a four-year, $100 million contract extension, league sources told The Vertical. The deal cements Adams, 23, as a Thunder franchise cornerstone along with All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.
As part of the NBA’s 2013 Draft class, the extension keeps Adams out of restricted free agency next summer.
That last part is the key — Oklahoma City wants to refashion themselves as a contender around Westbrook, and Adams is a physical anchor in the middle is key to that. Offensively he sets a strong screen and has become one of the best role men in the league. Adams is a strong defender (if not a high-flying shot blocker), something the Thunder need in the paint. He has good chemistry with Westbrook.
And if they let the market set his price next summer, it would have been much higher (whatever the new max would be under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement we all expect).
This move and signing Victor Oladipo and Adams does hurt the Thunder’s cap space to chase free agents next summer, but if these two were not locked up — notably Adams — it likely would have been tough to lure an elite talent anyway. Now the Thunder know their options.