Will Jeff Green be back in a Thunder uniform next season?
What has been assumed for months became a certainty on Thursday.
Jeff Green will become a restricted free agent next summer.
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti confirmed to The Oklahoman that contract negotiations between the team and representatives for the 2007 fifth overall pick have ended. The two sides had until Monday to reach a deal on an extension for the fourth-year forward. But barring an unexpected last-minute concession of some kind, Green will be allowed to test the free-agent market in July.
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"Signing a player to an extension is certainly a positive but has become more unique," Presti said. "We explored the concept and had positive dialogue, but we will have to revisit the discussions in the future."
Uncertainty with rules of a yet-to-be renegotiated collective bargaining agreement has led to only two players from the 2007 draft class receiving extensions. Thunder forward Kevin Durant signed a max deal in July, and Chicago center Joakim Noah later inked a five-year $60-million extension.
Only five players from the 2006 draft class received extensions before the start of their fourth seasons, and just seven players re-signed from the 2005 draft class.
"I totally understand it," Green said Thursday. "There are a whole lot of reasons it couldn't get done right now, but I'm not worried about it. I'm just thinking about this season and what I've got to do."
It's unclear how close the Thunder was on a deal, but waiting to hammer out an agreement could be a risky proposition — for the team and the player.
By choosing to not re-sign now, Green could potentially forfeit millions of dollars. NBA commissioner David Stern has said league owners are seeking to slash player salaries by up to $800 million in the new labor contract. The new CBA also could contain cutbacks on players' annual raises, as well as the number of years contracts can be signed for. For instance, instead of signing a five-year extension with 10.5 percent annual raises, Green could have to settle for a three- or four-year deal with 8 percent raises.
Additionally, Green runs the risk of injury this season, which could destroy his value on the open market. So, too, could an unproductive season.
The cases of Thunder shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha and current Chicago swingman Ronnie Brewer serve as relevant examples. Sefolosha sacrificed the chance to seek additional dollars as a restricted free agent and inked a four-year, $13.8 million extension just before last year's deadline. Brewer, who played in Utah at the time, didn't agree on a deal before the deadline and was traded to Memphis in midseason. Subsequently, Brewer injured his hamstring and missed much of the second half of last season. He ultimately signed a three-year, $12.5 million deal with the Bulls, with the third year being non-guaranteed.
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