Oklahoma City Thunder One Offer Away From Another Big Win
One of the NBA's youngest units doesn't look like a collection of raw college-age kiddos.
Kevin Durant has topped the 30-point plateau 37 times this year, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are 26-11 in those games.
Sunday's home win over the short-handed Utah Jazz marked OKC's 41st win of the season. The Thunder won 23 games in its last campaign.
With a playoff berth all but secured, the team can now focus on fighting for home-court advantage in the first round.
To top it off, first-time All Star Durant says he would be honored to sign a contract extension to stay in Oklahoma City well beyond 2011, when he could become a restricted free agent.
It does not take a brilliant mathematician to solve this equation.
The star forward is eligible for an extension starting July 1. GM Sam Presti should circle the date on his calendar and write "duh." Owner Clay Bennett should do the same.
Forward Jeff Green's situation also requires attention. He's also eligible for an extension this summer, but Presti could justify the wait by saving some money.
A select number of ballers prove worthy of a maximum contract. Durant's inclusion on that list is a no-brainer.
The Thunder have made a quicker-than-expected playoff push and managed to rank as one of the league's best defensive teams in the process.
No player outside of Thabo Sefolosha was considered a defensive stopper before training camp began.
Now? A roster overrun with would-be college juniors and seniors is using its collective athleticism to force opponents into bad shots and turnovers.
Durant has led the charge, and he should be the first to sign anything this summer—before Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh.
Presti's job description might fill a page, but come July 1 he must execute one task alone.
Re-signing Durant would solidify the Thunder for years to come and keep a championship foundation strong.
This puts the OKC front office in a rare position.
Who would turn down the opportunity to get a big "W" in the offseason?
By tendering one contract and soliciting one signature, Presti can put to rest every unjustifiable criticism that has dogged the franchise.
Oklahoma City isn't supposed to be a big enough market for a star or a title contender.
Many wonder if Bennett will want to save as much as $25 million over five years and wait until 2011 to re-up his star.
With ample room to grow, Durant has one of the NBA's smallest metros thinking big.
If he continues to win, the endorsement deals will match his already ballooned exposure.
A few million more seems small in comparison.
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