Whenever Thunder general manager Sam Presti executes a rookie contract extension, usually there's quite a commotion. Not so with shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha.
There was nary a peep on Oct. 28, 2009, when Sefolosha agreed to a four-year extension with OKC worth $13.8 million, plus incentives.
Presti had acquired Sefolosha from the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline eight months earlier in exchange for a first-round draft pick. Sefolosha quickly had become a highly respected perimeter defender with the Bulls as the No. 13 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.
This essentially meant Presti swapped a proven lottery pick for the No. 26 overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Since the uncelebrated signing of Sefolosha, every rookie contract extension involving the Thunder has made a ruckus.
*All-Star forward Kevin Durant agreed to a 30-percent maximum, five-year extension at the earliest possible moment on July 8, 2008, which he announced via Twitter. That such a significant occasion was so modestly revealed brought aftershocks that rumbled throughout the league.
*On Jan. 19, 2012, All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook agreed to a 25-percent maximum, five-year extension, even though he would have qualified for the 30-percent maximum as a two-time All-NBA pick at the time. Westbrook and Durant being under contract together through at least the 2015-16 season quickly had opposing teams groaning.
*On Aug, 18, 2012, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Serge Ibaka agreed to a four-year extension worth $49 million, plus incentives. Starting next season, Ibaka's salary will be at a flat rate of $12.25 million per year and will not escalate, putting less stress on future OKC payrolls.
*Last summer, reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden refused the Thunder's four-year extension offer reportedly worth $53 million. As a result, Presti traded Harden to Houston on Oct. 27 in a move that remains a topic of debate.
There has been little debate of Sefolosha's worth, however.
This upcoming season will be the final year of Sefolosha's contract and will pay him $3.9 million. Starting July 1, the Thunder has until the end of the contract (June 30, 2014) to re-sign Sefolosha, or he will become an unrestricted free agent.
Sefolosha came off the bench in his first appearance with OKC in 2009, but he has started every game since (other than the 32 games he has missed due to injuries).
Last season qualified as a career year for the 29-year-old Switzerland native, who set career highs in field-goal percentage, points, steals and 3-pointers made.
While remaining one of the league's premier perimeter defenders, Sefolosha has gradually transformed himself into a shooting guard who can actually shoot. He has become an effective spot-up 3-point shooter (.419), particularly from the corners (.463).
Where does Sefolosha hope to improve before next season?
“Different things,” Sefolosha said. “I want to keep working on my shooting and I definitely want to work on my ball handling and different things where I see I can maybe have an impact on the game for the Thunder.”
Sefolosha began his career as a teenage point guard for the Swiss national team. Does he want to return to his ball-handling days as a 17-year-old?
“Maybe not that far,” Sefolosha said with a chuckle. “I just think I understand my role with this team. I embrace it and try to play to the best of my abilities. I feel at the same time that I can do more, so that is what I want to explore as long as coach (Scott Brooks) gives me a chance and my teammates trust me. I'll just try to do more for the team.”