OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Things appeared to be unraveling for the Thunder when Kevin Durant left for Golden State.
Four months later, Oklahoma City has a solid nucleus in place. Just a few months after re-signing Russell Westbrook, the Thunder announced multi-year extensions for center Steven Adams and guard Victor Oladipo not long after the trade deadline at midnight Eastern on Tuesday.
“I think it was pretty clear that both guys wanted to be here,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
Getting the deals done now ensures the two young players with high ceilings won't become restricted free agents next summer, and it stabilizes the core around Westbrook now that Durant is gone. Both potentially could have garnered more money on the open market. With uncertainty regarding the final details of a new collective bargaining agreement that will take effect next season, the Thunder went for the safe move, and the players were willing to sign.
The Thunder did not provide details on the contracts. Two people familiar with the deals said that both were four-year extensions, with Adams's deal worth $100 million and Oladipo's worth $84 million. The people spoke only on condition of anonymity because the details had not been announced.
“We are excited to extend our partnership with Steven and Victor,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “Both players represent the Thunder's present and future, exhibiting the values that the Oklahoma community and our organization hold in high regard: hard work, team first, resiliency and citizenship.”
Adams, a New Zealand native, has emerged as one of the most talented centers in the league. In three-plus seasons with the Thunder, he has averaged 6.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game but through three games this season, he is averaging 13.0 points and 9.0 rebounds.
“I just like it here, man,” Adams said. “It reminds me of New Zealand, this place. Lot of good people here. Obviously, a really good organization.”
During last year's playoffs, Adams recorded six double-doubles and averaged 10.1 points and 9.5 rebounds in 22 games.
“Steven, just being part of his development and seeing him progress last year, clearly, I think everybody feels he is going to be one of the best centers in this league,” Donovan said.
Oladipo came to the Thunder in the trade that sent Serge Ibaka to Orlando. Adams was pleased that Oladipo committed to the extension just three games into his first season in Oklahoma City.
“It's good that he came over and just felt comfortable enough to sign,” Adams said. “Really good. That's just kudos to the culture and the family environment that we bring.”
Oladipo has averaged 15.9 points, 4.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals for his career. He was named to the 2016 U.S. Select Team this past summer. So far this season, he has averaged 17.0 points, 2.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals.
“I just felt like it was a great fit,” Oladipo said. “I feel comfortable. I just feel like I'm supposed to be here.”
Getting to play next to Westbrook played a role in Oladipo's decision. The two built a strong relationship over the summer.
“It was a great factor, a big factor in the decision as well,” he said. “He's one of the best players in the world, if not, the best player in the world. Who wouldn't want to play with him for a long time?”