Thunder's Kevin Durant, Nick Collison trying to recruit Shane Battier

By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: November 29, 2011
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While Battier could add top-notch defense, additional depth and supreme professionalism to the Thunder, his addition isn't likely given the franchise's current roster and future financial obligations. The Thunder will be at the maximum allowable 15 players when 24th overall draft pick Reggie Jackson signs his standard rookie scale contract and restricted free agent sharpshooter Daequan Cook re-signs as expected.

Oklahoma City also needs to show financial restraint now in order to be able to ink Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka to long-term deals. Westbrook is eligible for an extension when the lockout is lifted, though a deal wouldn't kick in until the 2012-13 season, while Harden and Ibaka are eligible for extensions next summer.

The Thunder, meanwhile, already has a defensive stopper in Thabo Sefolosha under a budget-friendly contract that will pay him a relatively cheap $10.8 million over the next three seasons. Battier, who has hit 38.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, is a much better perimeter shooter than Sefolosha, a career 30.4 percent shooter. But Sefolosha is six years younger and still could grow into a more dominant defender and more accurate shooter.

There is no doubt, however, that Battier could be a nice fit with the Thunder, a franchise that is creeping closer to a championship and potentially could entice Battier to sacrifice money and playing time to play for a winner.

“I have no idea where I can end up,” Battier was quoted as saying last week in a Q&A with USA Today. “It's going to be chaos trying to go through the free agency period, and I'll have to make a life decision (quickly).

“Memphis may be the best place to return if teams are able to maintain (Larry) Bird rights. I'm hoping to get a three-, four-year deal. For what I can do, I can do for that period of time. I want to be in a happy place. I want to go to work and enjoy it. When you go to work and you have a chance to win every night, your job is way better. That's for any profession, but you want to have a role and be able to contribute to winning.”