In the latest NBA rumors of 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder are looking to keep their core unit in tact, for the time being. The latest news reports indicate that the team has signed Serge Ibaka to a contract extension, and they'll certainly need him to step up big in the Western Conference.
According to ESPN.com, Ibaka has been signed to a 4-year, $48 million contract extension. Under the terms of the deal Serge would be eligible to become a restricted free agent next summer. Ibaka now joins Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as the latest to reach long-term extension deals with OKC.
Last season was Ibaka's third and he brought 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds to the team for the season. OKC fell to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, but Ibaka has shown his worth as a top big man and defensive player in the league. He also had an impressive showing during the recent 2012 London Olympics, where he played for Spain, the silver medal winning team.
The Thunder will definitely need his services along with other bigs in the Western Conference. Now that big man Dwight Howard has joined the LA Lakers, it makes them an even tougher team for OKC and everyone else. However, in the West, the Thunder now will face Howard more times than they have previously during the regular season. Ibaka won't be able to stop Howard alone, but he may be part of the equation used by OKC to try to slow him down.
(Image Source: Wikimedia)