As promised, the OKC Thunder retained restricted free agent big man Enes Kanter by matching the Portland Trail Blazers’ four-year, $70 million offer Sunday.

The Thunder, under tremendous pressure to show they’re committed to winning with Kevin Durant’s free agency looming next summer, had basically no choice but to fork over big money for Kanter.

Following a mid-season trade from Utah, the 23-year-old Kanter played in 26 games for OKC, averaging 18.7 points and 11 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per night.

Per the AP:

The Thunder said all along they wanted to keep the 23-year-old Kanter, who scored 20 or more points in 12 of his 26 appearances with the Thunder last season. […] “We traded for Enes last season with the intention of keeping him as a member of the Thunder for several years to come, and we are excited that he will continue with us,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement.

 

Kanter is a skilled low-post scorer who adds versatility to an offense that features Durant, Ibaka and reigning scoring champion Russell Westbrook. After the midseason deal with Utah, Kanter proved to instantly have a good rapport with Westbrook, especially on the pick-and-roll. […] Kanter made it clear during the season that he was much happier in Oklahoma City, and that he considered the Thunder a first-class organization. But Kanter, the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, will need to improve defensively.

 

Oklahoma City is well over the salary cap and will pay the luxury tax, a change of direction for the typically cost-conscious franchise. But the league recently had a 10.3 percent increase in the luxury tax number, to $84.7 million, and that number will climb higher the following year when the league’s new television deals take effect.