Former Oklahoma City Thunder wing Thabo Sefolosha has agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract with the Atlanta Hawks, according to Real GM's Shams Charania. The Thunder swingman struggled with injury this season, but had emerged as a key defensive ace for Oklahoma City prior to that.
Sefolosha was a longtime Thunder starter, but lost playing time in the postseason to Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler after struggling with a calf injury in the second half of the regular season. While the Thunder are looking to move on, the Hawks need more depth and improved defense on the wing.
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The Hawks will have to hope that the Sefolosha of the previous two years is the player they're getting. He shot 44 and 42 percent from the three-point line in those years while providing elite perimeter defense, but managed just 32 percent from three-point range this year. That drop-off was in part due to injury, but also because teams realized his shooting release is incredibly slow, giving them time to help off him to defend Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and then recover back. Sefolosha also has never developed an off-the-dribble game, making him a limited offensive player.
He is a fantastic defender, though, capable of slowing top perimeter scorers and switching onto quicker point guards. He had been used in the past on quick point guards like Tony Parker and Mike Conley in playoff series and defended them capably. Atlanta lacked a player capable of defending at that level last season.
It's a mild surprise that Sefolosha earned this contract after the worst year of his career. That said, should he bounce back to previous levels, it would be appropriate value for his services.
Other teams that saw Sefolosha as a backup plan to their wing rotation will now need to look elsewhere. The Washington Wizards, who are weighing the cost of re-signing free agent small forward Trevor Ariza, met with Sefolosha Wednesday but did not offer a contract. The Miami Heat also expressed interest, according to Charania.