After losing Kevin Durant this summer, Oklahoma City Thunders’ aim is to keep their key players around Russell Westbrook. Thunders are negotiating with Adams and Oladipo about the multiyear contract extension it was announced on Monday by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Adams’ new contract will be $100 million worth, and Dipo will sign $84 million contract. The Thunder payroll is ranked 22nd, topping $95.3 million. Both Adams and Oladipo will join Westbrook, who makes $26.5 million annually, at the top of Thunder payroll, with their new contracts.
Oklahoma’s General Manager Sam Presti seemed very excited about the contract extensions. He claimed that Adams and Oladipo represent Oklahoma’s present and future, and that they are perfect examples of Oklahoma’s main values: hard work, team first and resiliency and citizenship.
Adams is definitely OKC’s key player when it comes to defensive tasks, and if they lose him, it would be difficult to find a substitution with his energy and physical predispositions. Adams will also serve as the mentor for the rookie Domantas Sabonis, as one of the best NBA defensive centers. During his three seasons in Oklahoma, he appeared in 234 games, with 170 starts, averaging 6.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks. In his last season, he averaged 8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, in 80 appearances. He is currently averaging 13.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks. He is clearly worth his new contract, also he agreed on 4 million less than max contract. Now it is clear that Enes Karter is likely to get traded now, as franchise such as Oklahoma is, can’t afford to pay a bench player $ 17 million a year.
While Adams is considered as one of the NBA’s best defensive centers, Oladipo still needs to prove his worth in Oklahoma City. He spent the first three years shuffling through in Orlando and has not made significant progress as a player. His value at the moment is almost as much potential as it is tangible, the idea of a Oladipo- Westbrook wrecking crew is more idea than realized fact. But, the season is long, and Oladipo has a lot of time and space to prove himself and to prove that he is not just a liability. It is safe to say that if this deal had not happened, and if Oladipo decided to test the free agents market, someone would surely offer him a max deal.
The 24-year old guard Oladipo, who came to OKC as a part of the trade for Ibaka, is in his first season in Oklahoma after spending 3 years in Orlando Magic. He was selected 2nd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft, and after 3 seasons in Orlando, he returned to Oklahoma. He averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the first two games of this season. In the Friday’s win over Phoenix Suns, he scored 21 points. His contract was estimated roughly $21 million under the maximum contract. Oladipo has appeared in 227 games (170 starts) and averaged 15.9 points, 4.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.62 steals in 33.2 minutes per game, but he still struggles with his shooting percentage, although he plays along with Westbrook.
Oklahoma’s main goal is to improve their roster’s strength after Durant’s departure, and apart from their superstar Russell Westbrook, Adams and Oladipo are surely the players to rely on. Fans are hoping that with these three players together, the team will remain a fierce competitor in the Western Conference. So far, they are off to a fast start at 3-0, but the NBA season is long and in April we will find out how Oklahoma is really strong without Durant.
Words By: Admir Aljic