Reports of the Oklahoma City Thunder signing Serge Ibaka to a four-year contract extension were certainly great news for any Thunder fan to wake up to on Saturday morning. But that enthusiasm was surely tempered by the next thought: what about James Harden?
SB Nation's Thunder blog Welcome To Loud City went through that process after digesting the news of the four-year, $48 million extension OKC agreed to with Ibaka. While general manager Sam Presti inked a favorable deal with Ibaka, it still doesn't leave any reasonable room under the salary cap to keep Harden past next season. Barring Harden agreeing to a below-market contract or OKC ownership's willingness to pay the luxury tax, WTLC thinks the Thunder made the best of the tough decisions facing them in this situation.
When it comes right down to it, I love what happened today. Ibaka was signed for an absolute steal of a contract, and the Thunder are virtually guaranteed to be a playoff team for years to come. He's still got a lot of growing to do in terms of scoring, and showed excellent ability while playing for Spain this Summer. Eric Maynor will be back to replace Harden's handling, and while his scoring might be something the Thunder can never replace, it's a heck of a lot harder to find a replacement for post defense than it is for perimeter scoring.