The NBA has set a deadline of Jan. 25 for teams to come to terms on contract extensions for players entering their fourth seasons.
It gives the Oklahoma City Thunder slightly more than six weeks to hammer out an extension for All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. If no deal is reached by then, Westbrook will become a restricted free agent next summer, meaning the Thunder would have the right to retain him by matching any offer he might receive.
Westbrook and Thunder management, however, have both expressed their desire to get a deal done, and negotiations are not expected to spill into next summer.
Under new collective bargaining rules, Westbrook is eligible for a four-year extension that would kick in at the start of the 2012-13 season. The new rules, though, allow teams to designate one player who is eligible for a five-year extension at the maximum salary, which would be 25 percent of the salary cap. But Westbrook could be eligible to earn up to 30 percent of the salary cap if he is named to one of three All-NBA teams for the second consecutive year this season.
Prior to the lockout, teams had until Oct. 31 to extend rookie contracts before players would hit the market as restricted free agents in the following summer. The league will revert to the Oct. 31 deadline next season, when Thunder players James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor and Byron Mullens will be up for extensions.
Other prominent players from the 2008 draft class who are now eligible for extensions include Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, Danilo Gallinari, Brook Lopez, Roy Hibbert and JaVale McGee.