Serge Ibaka and the Oklahoma City Thunder have reached an agreement on a 4-year, $48 million contract extension, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Ibaka is just 22 years old and is entering his fourth season in the NBA next season and along with James Harden became eligible to sign an extension with the Thunder this summer.
Ibaka averaged 9.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game last year for the Thunder and finished second in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year.
If Ibaka did not sign an extension with the Thunder, he would have become a restricted free agent next summer and could have signed offer sheets with another team while the Thunder would have had the opportunity to match any offer.
The Thunder are getting Ibaka for a decent price. JaVale McGee signed a 4-year, $44 million contract earlier this summer and Roy Hibbert signed a max-deal for four years, $58 million.
Ibaka could have easily seen a little more money if he became a restricted free agent next summer and the Thunder did not want to see that happen.
This is very good news for Thunder camp and makes it seem like Harden will be next to sign an extension soon. Harden seemed the No. 1 priority for the Thunder to get an extension while Ibaka would maybe be the one who the Thunder let go of.
If the Thunder do extend Harden as well, they will almost certainly enter the luxury tax in a year or two, something they’ve never done and would like to avoid especially being in a small market.
The luxury tax penalties become harsher when you cross the tax line for multiple seasons in a row. Even with the Thunder extending Ibaka and Harden, they would be able to get back under the tax line by trading one of them down the line which now seems the most likely scenario for the Thunder to eventually part ways with one of them.
Another way the Thunder could avoid the luxury tax in the near future is amnestying Kendrick Perkins after next season. Perkins will make $7.8 million next season and then is owed $8.5 million in 2013-14 and $9.1 million in 2014-15.
Amnestying Perkins always seemed like the easy way to save some money but now with Dwight Howard being traded to the Lakers, the Thunder may prefer not to part ways with Perkins, who has always been very good at defending Howard.
Thunder GM Sam Presti and the rest of the Thunder organization continue to show that they are committed to this team and the current roster they have. Extending Ibaka is huge just like extending head coach Scott Brooks was earlier this summer.
The next step now is Harden. It will get done and hopefully before the season.