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OKC Thunder: Reggie Jackson remains Thunder's top priority

It can be argued that keeping Jackson in the mix and happy going forward is more pivotal than any personnel addition Oklahoma City can make during free agency.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 1, 2014

As we wait for the Thunder to strike in free agency, it’s important to remember one name.

Reggie Jackson.

He remains Oklahoma City’s top priority this summer.

For all the handwringing over upgrades, Jackson stands as the most likely player to provide a bigger impact next season, simply through an increase in minutes. For that reason, it can be argued that keeping Jackson in the mix and happy going forward is more pivotal than any personnel addition Oklahoma City can make.

The Thunder can now negotiate a contract extension with its top reserve and backup point guard, and Oklahoma City more than likely touched based with Jackson’s representatives in the opening hours of the free-agency period to discuss the next steps toward hammering out a deal.

Under league rules, Jackson is eligible for a four-year extension to his rookie contract. The Thunder has repeatedly expressed a desire to keep Jackson, who has blossomed into one of the league’s best sixth men and has become a vital contributor on a championship-caliber team.

“Reggie obviously is a guy we think highly of,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said last month. “He’s come through the program. He’s been given a myriad of opportunities, some by design and some out of necessity. I think he’s worked his way through all those admirably.”

But if a deal is not reached by Oct. 31, Jackson will become a restricted free agent next summer, at which point the Thunder will have the opportunity to match whatever offer Jackson might receive from another team.

Although the Thunder has expressed its interest in re-signing Jackson, extensions to rookie deals generally are slow-moving processes.

That doesn’t mean that a deal won’t get done.

“Generally, these things don’t happen in July,” Presti said last month. “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.”

Since the 2002 draft class saw 16 first-round picks awarded with extensions to their rookie scale contracts, teams have begun taken a much more cautious wait-and-see approach. In 2005, seven players were extended prior to Oct. 31. In 2006, there were six. The next two years, only five in each class were extended. The number jumped back up to nine in 2009. But in 2010, that figure again fell to five.

Some of this year’s best free agents are rising fifth-year players who didn’t receive offers from their respective franchises prior to Oct. 31 last year and are now restricted free agents: Detroit post man Greg Monroe, electric Phoenix guard Eric Bledsoe, versatile Utah forward Gordon Hayward and bulldog Boston defender Avery Bradley.

Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 overall pick in Jackson’s 2011 draft class, in the early morning hours Tuesday became the exception rather than the rule. He agreed to an extension with the Cavs that will net him a maximum allowable contract. Irving was this year’s All-Star Game MVP and a player many view as capable of being the league’s best point guard in time.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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