Thunder Sign Nick Collison To Extension

12:07pm: Collison’s extension is worth $7.5MM over two seasons, and all of the salary is guaranteed, according to Marc Stein of (Twitter link).

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics11:10am: The Thunder have signed Nick Collison to a multiyear veteran extension, the team announced via press release. The power forward’s contract was to have expired at season’s end. It’s a two-year deal worth close to $8MM, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Normally, veteran extensions are limited to starting salaries worth no more than 7.5% of what they’re currently making. However, since Collison has been with the Thunder/SuperSonics franchise for more than a decade, and his more than $2.242MM salary this season is less than he made last year, he can sign for more. His starting salary can be up to 107.5% of the average salary in his existing deal, so he could make up to roughly $5.225MM next season, though it appears he’ll still make less than that amount.

“We are excited that Nick Collison will continue his tenure with the Thunder. Since our arrival in 2008, Nick has helped us establish the standards on and off the floor that we work by on a day-to-day basis,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said in the team’s statement. “He has accepted various roles, demonstrated professionalism in all aspects of his craft, and shown a commitment to an organizational philosophy that is rare in sports today. Nick is the type of player that will always be valued in Oklahoma City, and we are thrilled he will continue to be a foundational member of the Thunder moving forward.”

The 34-year-old, who last struck a deal with the Thunder when he signed an extension in November of 2010, was one of the few players around the league eligible to sign another veteran extension. He’s just the seventh player to sign a veteran extension, which is different from a rookie scale extension, since the implementation of the existing collective bargaining agreement in late 2011.

“I’m excited to continue my career with the Thunder, playing here in Oklahoma City. I feel fortunate to be a part of a great organization and to play with a great group of teammates,” Collison said, according to the team’s statement. “Playing in Oklahoma City is unique, it’s a rare combination of a lot of things; great people in the organization starting with ownership, the most loyal fans, the opportunity to win at a high level and a true community impact. It’s been a great professional experience for me since the day I arrived. I’m proud of what we have built together and am grateful to be able to stay with the club and continue our work together.”

The Thunder already had more than $68.7MM in commitments for next season against a protected $66.5MM salary cap, so Oklahoma City wasn’t in position to open cap space even before the extension. However, the move may compromise the Thunder’s flexibility to some degree, since the team would be barred from trading him for six months from today if his extension contains a raise of greater than 4.5%.

Collison, the 12th overall pick in the 2003 draft, has spent his entire career with the Thunder/SuperSonics organization, though he’s seeing fewer minutes per game than he ever has during his pro career. He’s averaging 3.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per night with 41.6% shooting, all career lows, making the extension quite a surprise, even given the track record of loyalty Collison and the team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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