Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are going to make sure the Oklahoma City Thunder are contenders for the foreseeable future for the NBA Title. The unfortunate side is that the Thunder is also going to be a very expensive team in the not-too-distant future. SB Nation's Tom Ziller says the team is up against a wall as soon as 2013-14 with other players like James Harden coming available for their own extensions.
The dilemma comes with the announced five-year extension for $80 million given to point guard Russell Westbrook today. Aside from Durant, he's definitely the team's other star, but there's an escalating cost to the NBA and Sam Presti will likely have a plan in place when Harden and company come due. Ziller says he'll need one.
"Here's the problem: with just Durant and Westbrook alone, some $33.5 million in 2013-14 salary will be locked up," writes Ziller. "Kendrick Perkins is also due more than $8 million that season, and if Harden and Ibaka each demand their own Westbrookian contracts, the Thunder will be pressing up against the luxury tax line while accounting for just five players.
"It could force the Thunder to trade Westbrook to make room for Harden and Ibaka, or be willing to let go of either Harden (unlikely) or Ibaka. Alternately, the Thunder could wade headfirst into the luxury tax pool, should owner Clay Bennett decide that building a dynasty is more important than turning a profit in a small market."