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The Domino effect: Jeff Green's extension negotiations will have a lasting impact on the Thunder

Why Jeff Green's contract extension is more significant than Kevin Durant's.
By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: June 29, 2010 at 11:39 pm •  Published: June 29, 2010
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photo - Signing Jeff Green could be the start of a domino effect for the Thunder.
Photo illustration by Phillip Baeza, The Oklahoman
Signing Jeff Green could be the start of a domino effect for the Thunder. Photo illustration by Phillip Baeza, The Oklahoman

Green had a breakthrough season during 2008-09 but regressed slightly this past year. Still, only nine other players since 2000-01 have posted third-year averages of at least 15 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals — Durant, LeBron James, Steve Francis, Shawn Marion, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison, Kenyon Martin and Andrei Kirilenko.

"He can't expect the max," said one league executive speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's not a max player. He's a $10 million a year player at best."

With Durant, Green, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor, Byron Mullens and now Cole Aldrich, a popular question among Thunder fans is how the team can possibly keep all of its young talent. It hasn't yet become an issue since most of the team's core is still on rookie scale contracts.

But when it comes time to extend those contracts, especially if each player performs to his abilities, the Thunder could be in trouble — which is why Green's deal holds so much significance.

Westbrook is next in line for an extension next summer.

Harden, Ibaka, Maynor and Mullens are up in 2012.

Aldrich is due in 2013.

"They don't want to set a precedent where they overpay Green and have Russell Westbrook come in and say he's a max (player)," the exec said. "He's not a max player either. He's a good player but he's not a max player."