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Thunder, Steven Adams nearing 4-year, $100 million contract extension

After locking down Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City will soon make sure Adams is around for a long time.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder and center Steven Adams are closing in on a contract extension that will pay the 23-year-old big man $100 million over the next four years to remain in Oklahoma City, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

The news comes just after the team agreed to a four-year, $84 million extension with Victor Oladipo. The Thunder are hoping they can be the supporting parts Russell Westbrook needs after he signed an extension of his own this summer.

Adams was selected 12th overall in the 2013 draft by the Thunder with one of the picks they received in the trade that sent James Harden to the Rockets. It turned out to be the best asset they got back from that transaction, as the 7-footer from New Zealand quickly emerged as a quality contributor. Last season he became one of the best starting centers in the league, a force on both ends that allowed Oklahoma City to get past the Spurs in the postseason and compete with the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Extending Adams and Oladipo now instead of waiting for the offseason will make it difficult for the Thunder to make a splash in free agency. Now, in order to create any sort of room, Oklahoma City will have to trade Enes Kanter and other pieces. That's a cost that the Thunder were clearly willing to pay in order to retain two of their core players.

Adams' per-game numbers are not terribly impressive but he's one of the best defensive players in the league and a rugged rebounder who makes life hell for opponents thanks to his physicality. He's also emerged as a great finisher around the rim, especially in the pick and roll, where his chemistry with Russell Westbrook is undeniable. If he can improve his poor free throw shooting and continue to grow at a steady pace as a player, he will more than earn his contract. Every team needs a defensive anchor and Adams can play that role.

The departure of Kevin Durant in free agency and Serge Ibaka via trade brought a lot of uncertainty to the Thunder franchise but Westbrook's commitment to restructuring his contract and foregoing free agency in 2017 made the path to follow clear. Oklahoma City is trying to stay competitive and avoid a rebuilding process. Locking down Adams helps them achieve that goal.

Adams averaged eight points and seven rebounds on 25 minutes per game last season and shot 61 percent from the floor.