Nick Collision Deal About Much More Than Business


On February 3rd, the Oklahoma City Thunder signed their longest-tenured player, Nick Collision, to an extension. According to Royce Young of, the deal is worth $7.5 million over two years. While this seems to be a reward for a player who has spent his entire career with the same team and embodies the image the franchise wants to convey, this deal was much more than that.

Throughout all the media coverage on Kevin Durant, he has always stressed his most important trait: loyalty. Durant’s loyalty to Collision is on a different level because of how long the two have played together. That was on full display when former ESPN writer Chris Palmer went to Twitter to rip the deal:

Durant’s response was indicative of someone who had a close bond with Collision and was willing to do anything to defend him, even if it meant risking criticism.

While it could be argued that Durant would have jumped to the defense of any of his teammates, I believe his relationship with Collision is different than anyone else on the team. In his MVP speech, Durant lauded Collision for taking him under his wing when he first arrived in Seattle as an 18 year old still finding his way in life.

Collision is the only one who has been with Durant through his entire journey in the NBA, from highly-touted prospect to league MVP. Unlike other players such as Russell Westbrook who grew up as people and players with Durant, Collision was more of a mentor figure.

This extension had less to do with appeasing Collision and much more to do with satisfying KD.

Everyone in Oklahoma is frightened of Durant bolting for a different team in 2016. However, the Thunder have much more power than other suitors because they can make moves now that will entice him to stay then.

Signing “Nicky C” to an extension appeals to Durant in two extremely important ways. First, it ensures that a longtime friend and mentor will be on the team if/when KD chooses to resign with OKC.

More importantly however is what this deal says to Durant.

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By paying Collision over his market value it shows Durant the franchise values loyalty just as much as he does. It is very clear that Collision’s statistics do not warrant him being paid $4 million a year. This has not been a theme throughout Collision’s career, as he has typically been underpaid. Surely, the Thunder recognized this and wanted to show Collision how much they appreciate his devotion and patience.

An interview posted on the team’s website following the announcement of his extension may have provided a hint of the subtle connection between the two players. Collision highlighted everything that appeals to Durant in Oklahoma City when he said, “Playing in Oklahoma City is unique, it’s a rare combination of a lot of things; great people in the organization starting with ownership, the most loyal fans, the opportunity to win at a high level and a true community impact.”

“Playing in Oklahoma City is unique, it’s a rare combination of a lot of things”-Nick Collision

If you did not know who was being interviewed, this could have just as easily been interpreted as something Durant himself would say. In all his years helping KD develop from a teenage boy to a grown man, Collision has instilled the values he holds dear.

In rewarding a man who has been a critical part of Durant’s growth and is one of his closest friends, the Thunder have shown that they are loyal not only to Collision, but to Durant as well. This is yet another subtle, brilliant power play by GM Sam Presti to sustain his franchise’s success as long as he can.