With the James Harden scenario still fresh on the minds of Thunder fans, there is already a slight panic over Reggie Jackson's impending contract situation.
His great performances – and lately, there have been plenty – are met with a combination of 'Oh wow, his rapid development could be key to a title run!' and 'Oh no, could he be playing himself out of the Thunder's price range?'
It's a strange situation, but one that is unavoidable for a small-market franchise that continues to draft and develop young and talented guys behind a trio of big-name players that are already financially locked up long term.
Jackson is secured through next season under his rookie contract, but will be eligible for a hefty extension in July. It's the same career checkpoint OKC faced with Harden, eventually deciding to ship the star shooting guard away once it was clear a deal could not be agreed upon.
This time, Jackson shouldn't come at the same price tag. Harden got max money, Jackson likely won't.
But with the way he's been playing this year – 12.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists in only 24.6 minutes, plus advanced metrics that suggest he's a great defender – there's sure to be plenty of talent-strapped teams willing to throw a wad of cash and a feature role his way come the 2015 offseason.
That's still far down the line, but you can bet this forward-looking franchise (as shown by the Harden trade) is well-versed in all of the potential parameters.
And the biggest potential problem likely won't be money. Jackson may be willing to take less to stay with the franchise that showed faith — drafting and developing the little-known Boston College guard.
Plus, the Thunder could have more flexibility, with Thabo Sefolosha's and Nick Collison's contracts up and Kendrick Perkins' $9.1 million tag, through amnesty or trade, possibly off the books.