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OKC Thunder: Thabo Sefolosha's return next season is not guaranteed

Sefolosha is in a contract year. The team has until June 30 to re-sign him. If no agreement is reached, he will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: November 18, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: November 17, 2013

Restricting the Thunder's flexibility, though, will be rising salaries on current contracts of Westbrook, Durant, Perkins and the remaining players still on smaller, more affordable rookie scale contracts.

The Thunder also has a more pressing deal to try to get done with Reggie Jackson, a rising star who is eligible for an extension on July 1. Jackson's future salary is a big unknown at the moment. His play this season could help him command something crazy or limit him to something more cost efficient. Either way, the Thunder might want to hammer out that issue before inking Sefolosha.

Sefolosha also might want to see what he's worth on the open market. Memphis rewarded Tony Allen with a four-year, $20 million deal in July and Sefolosha, while considered a cut below Allen as a defender, could start all negotiations using Allen as a comparable. Memphis also re-signed Quincy Pondexter to a four-year, $14 million extension, perhaps providing a floor of what Sefolosha will expect.

Keep in mind, however, that the Thunder has up and coming players in Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson that the franchise might feel can fill Sefolosha's shoes at a discount.

So far, Sefolosha hasn't done himself any favors with the surprisingly slow start he's gotten off to. He's shooting just 37.3 percent from the field, his lowest clip through his first eight games as a member of the Thunder, and has connected on just 20.8 percent of his 3-pointers. While you could chalk up his offensive struggles to pressing in a contract year, his defensive impact thus far has regressed as well.

But it's only been eight games, and we're still in November.

July 1 is a long way away.

But this is all an example of the long-term planning the Thunder has had to live by, and Sefolosha is simply a compelling case that will soon test a long-standing Thunder philosophy.

>>Read: More on Thabo's contract year