The NBA has set a deadline of Jan. 25 for teams to come to terms on contract extensions for players entering their fourth seasons.
It gives the Oklahoma City Thunder slightly more than six weeks to hammer out an extension for All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. If no deal is reached by then, Westbrook will become a restricted free agent next summer, meaning the Thunder would have the right to retain him by matching any offer he might receive.
Westbrook and Thunder management, however, have both expressed their desire to get a deal done, and negotiations are not expected to spill into next summer.
Under new collective bargaining rules, Westbrook is eligible for a four-year extension that would kick in at the start of the 2012-13 season. The new rules, though, allow teams to designate one player who is eligible for a five-year extension at the maximum salary, which would be 25 percent of the salary cap. But Westbrook could be eligible to earn up to 30 percent of the salary cap if he is named to one of three All-NBA teams this season.
Before the lockout, teams had until Oct. 31 to extend rookie contracts before players would hit the market as restricted free agents in the following summer. The league will revert to the Oct. 31 deadline next season, when Thunder players James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor and Byron Mullens will be up for extensions.
PLAYERS IMPRESSED WITH PRACTICE FACILITY
Thunder players returned to a new practice facility after three seasons in a temporary location and were blown away with their new digs.
“This is probably the best one in all of sports,” said Westbrook. “You can pretty much sleep here if you want. They did a good job of giving us everything we want.”
Oklahoma City residents funded the facility on Britton Road just east of Broadway Extension through a 1-cent sales tax. The Thunder players were clearly appreciative.
“It's a blessing, man, to have such great resources here,” said Kevin Durant. “They make us better players. They care so much about our progression as players. It's a big-time facility.”
COLLISON HEALTHY AND HAPPY
Forward Nick Collison entered training camp this season the healthiest he has been since coming to Oklahoma City.
Collison dealt with nagging injuries to various parts of his body, including his knees, in each of the past two seasons.
“I feel really good,” Collison said. “I missed the last two years of camp. To have a short camp may be a disadvantage, but I'm further along than I've been the last couple of years, so I feel really good. My knees feel good. I just have a little respiratory cold type thing I'm dealing with. But other than that, my body feels good.”