OKC Thunder: Keeping Reggie Jackson is a priority, but it won't be easy

COMMENTARY — The Thunder supersub has finished three NBA seasons and thus is eligible for a contract extension this offseason. He is not the superstar those guys were and are, but he’s quite a ballplayer.
by Berry Tramel Published: August 19, 2014
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                 Playing out his rookie contract for five years without signing an extension would make Reggie Jackson totally free in summer 2016. 
                 
                   Photo by KT King, The Oklahoman
Playing out his rookie contract for five years without signing an extension would make Reggie Jackson totally free in summer 2016. Photo by KT King, The Oklahoman

Thunder fans who need a little diversion from worrying about Kevin Durant’s decision in summer 2016, we’re here to serve. Forget, for awhile, about Durant and concern yourself with where Reggie Jackson might be in summer 2016.

The Thunder supersub has finished three NBA seasons and thus is eligible for a contract extension this offseason — same as Durant was in 2010, Russell Westbrook in 2011 and Serge Ibaka and James Harden in 2012. You know how those turned out. The Thunder batted three for four and was glad to take it.

Jackson is not the superstar those guys were and are, but he’s quite a ballplayer. Sam Presti talks glowingly about Jackson and says the magic words that signal no bull. Terms like “DNA” and “fits the profile of a Thunder player” and “competitive will.”

Keeping Jackson is a Thunder priority. But it won’t be easy. It’s not easy for anyone these days.

Of the players picked in the first round of the 2011 draft, only Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving so far has signed a contract extension. The Cavs tied up Irving for five years and $90 million, beginning in 2015-16. And it’s not like that draft hasn’t produced some talent: Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Kenneth Faried, Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson, Alec Burks, the Morris twins. Jackson.

Lots of guys who matter to their teams. Lots of guys who would be gold for their franchises to keep another five years. Yet only Irving has signed.

Last year, only five players from the 2010 draft signed contract extensions: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Derrick Favors and Larry Sanders.

“Generally, these things don’t happen in July,” Presti warned us back in June. “The trend now is they don’t even happen by the Oct. 31 deadline. But we are going to make a concerted effort to try to work something out with him that works for everybody. If that doesn’t happen, then we’ll pick the conversations up the following summer and see where that leads us.”

Salaries are problematic. When Gordon Hayward, who declined an extension last summer, signs a four-year, $63-million offer sheet, which the Jazz matched, Jackson had to think, I’m as good as him. So Jackson waits.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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