What does Serge Ibaka bring to your team?
“He does so many things. Obviously, his shot blocking is a statistic that is most pointed to because it's objective and it's measurable. There are a lot of things he does for us in just deterring shots. He really helps our pick-and-roll defense and bails us out a lot of times. In some cases, we maybe rely on that too much. We need to balance that out a little bit.”
What do you envision in the future for Ibaka?
“This is about future performance and what we anticipate to be the continued growth as a player. A lot of that comes down to a very rigorous work ethic and real persistence he has that I think you find in high-performing people. And I believe Serge has that quality.”
Do you think he realizes the significance of his deal?
“I really believe he does. ... You don't get to this point as an NBA player, coming from where he came from, without real fiber and some real DNA. Those are the types of things that we really value internally here. I think he possesses that in a pretty high quantity.”
You've signed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Ibaka to extensions before they could become restricted free agents. James Harden and Eric Maynor are up next. You also signed coach Scott Brooks to a four-year deal last month. Is there such a thing as building momentum when it comes to getting deals done?
“I don't necessarily know if you could categorize that. I think every negotiation has its own tempo, and has its own rhythm. They happen independently of each other. Sometimes you get to that point a little bit sooner, but it doesn't necessarily mean those conversations are at different rates that it's an indication of one way or the other.”
It's a pretty emotional day for you, with your wedding just two hours away. Does signing Ibaka relieve the pressure, or is there still more to come?
“I think it's safe to say there's not a fear of commitment on my end of the phone and I'm very much looking forward — no offense — to getting off the conference call and moving on to the second half of the day.”
There'll be some more questions at your wedding. You have to answer them, too. You can't release any statements.
“(Laughing) I know my lines today.”
-- John Rohde