OKC’s Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Andre Roberson can all become restricted free agents next summer if they don’t sign a rookie contract extension by Oct. 31. Which of these guys -- if any -- should the Thunder lock up right now?
David Aldridge: Adams, for sure. Steve Kerr said during the Western Conference finals last season that Adams was the best center in the league right now, and it's hard to argue. With almost everyone going insane this summer, there won't be quite as many possible suitors for free agents next summer, especially restricted ones. (Plus, we have no idea if the new CBA will adjust restricted free agency rules.) Still, there's no point in OKC taking any chances in exposing Adams to the market; someone would come up with a max deal with some kind of language that would be difficult for the Thunder. They've been masters at structuring deals to benefit the player now and the team later (Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison). One suspects they'll do the same with Adams.
Steve Aschburner: Prioritize them in the order you presented, with Adams first, Oladipo second and Roberson third. Adams already is one of the best big men in the league, with a toughness and a game to keep the Thunder formidable and a personality that wears well over the long haul. Oladipo is a dynamic backcourt partner for Russell Westbrook who seems eager to embrace his OKC opportunity and bask in the fan-love Kevin Durant left behind. Roberson gave a glimpse of his value in the postseason but needs to boost his impact offensively (3.9 FGA per game in 2015-16), grabbing from the pile of nightly shots (19.2) Durant also left behind.
Fran Blinebury: Steven Adams. He’s young, he’s a beast, he’s still blossoming and I’ll lock him in a room until I can lock him into a new contract.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Adams for sure. Probably Oladipo as well, the only hesitation being they may want to see how a newcomer fits in before making that kind of commitment. It’s not like the Thunder would lose all leverage if they wait until July. And Roberson has value as well. If there’s a number that works for both sides, great. It’s easy to see all three being part of the OKC future.
Shaun Powell: Steven Adams no doubt.Yes, the Thunder have a surplus of big men but Adams brings a high level of toughness with a developing skill-set. Victor Oladipo is a wait-and-see case -- how does he mesh with Russell Westbrook? -- while Andre Roberson would not be difficult to replace should OKC lose him on the market.
John Schuhmann: Adams should be the No. 1 priority for sure, and he should have a high asking price, given that they're paying his back-up $18 million per year. He's an impact player on both ends of the floor and, by far, the second most important guy on their roster. Roberson is only an impact player on one end of the floor, but he's a critical one. I'd try to get him signed too if it's at a reasonable price. And I'd wait and see on Oladipo. He's talented, but has yet to show that he can lift a team up and we don't know yet how he'll mesh with Russell Westbrook.
Sekou Smith: Steven Adams made Serge Ibaka expendable, so he's the easy choice here. While Roberson has shown promise and Oladipo could be poised for a true breakout season alongside Russell Westbrook, Adams is a sure bet to be a franchise pillar for years to come in Oklahoma City. Rugged big men, true back-to-the-basket bigs, are so hard to find. This should be one of the easiest decisions the Thunder front office has to make in regards to their young talent.
Ian Thomsen: Adams has contributed to the identity of the organization -- he is Russell Westbrook’s top lieutenant -- and therefore has earned a longterm deal. But Oladipo is new: Let him prove that he is worthy of OKC’s high standards before he receives a big raise. Roberson should be signed at this stage only if it’s a cost-efficient deal for the team. Altogether these decisions should not be made from a defensive posture.