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News » Sefolosha gets 4-year contract

Sefolosha gets 4-year contract

Sefolosha gets 4-year contract Two things happened Wednesday when Thabo Sefolosha and the Thunder agreed to a four-year, $15-million contract.

The player gained some surprising security, and the team added some essential stability.

They're the two factors that prevented talks from spilling over into next summer, as Sefolosha appeared to be headed for restricted free agency with just three days remaining before the deadline for an extension.

"It's definitely a great feeling just to be able to say I'm going to be four more years here," Sefolosha said before Oklahoma City defeated Sacramento 102-89 on Wednesday in the Ford Center.

"And just the confidence that the team has in me to offer me a contract like that is great."

Since arriving in Oklahoma City at the trade deadline in February, Sefolosha established himself as an invaluable piece to the puzzle general manager Sam Presti is slowly assembling.

The 6-foot-7 shooting guard is regarded as the team's best defender and, at just age 25, he'll grow alongside cogs Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

Sefolosha enjoyed the most successful stint of his career in his final 23 games last year with the Thunder after being traded from Chicago. He averaged 8.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocked shots. He's returned this season as the starting shooting guard, ahead of No. 3 overall pick James Harden.

"It means a lot to have him," said Green. "He's a defensive guy and guards the best player on the opposite team. He leads our defensive presence, so it feels good to know that we have him for another four years. Knowing that we're going to have this same chemistry for another four years is a plus. We know what to expect for the next four years, and it builds a lot more chemistry on the defensive end."

Sefolosha's agent, Guy Zucker, was quoted in an article by AOL Fanhouse on Tuesday saying no deal would be reached before the deadline. But the Thunder , Presti said, and Sefolosha were both eager to get a deal done.

"We see him as a player and a person that fits who we are and what we're trying to establish here," Presti said Wednesday night. "His competitiveness, what he brings on the defensive end of the floor, his work ethic, those are all things that we value about him. We're excited that we could accomplish this, and we'll continue to add to our team next summer."

Presti said the move "simplifies" the Thunder's summer and is one the organization would inevitably have to tackle. By signing Sefolosha now, the Thunder will not have to compete with teams for his services next July. And although Oklahoma City could have matched any offer Sefolosha received, the signing now avoids a potentially pricier deal later.

Another factor is Sefolosha would have tied up salary cap space the Thunder has available for next summer's free agents as long as he remained a restricted free agent. The Thunder would not have been able to spend as much while Sefolosha was in limbo.

Sefolosha, who signed the contract following Wednesday morning's shoot-around and called it a relief, became only the fourth player from the 2006 draft class to sign an extension.

"I'm happy I'm one of them," he said.

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Added: October 31, 2009


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