Late Wednesday night Russell Westbrook agreed in principle to a three-year $85.7 million deal to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The extension adds to his salary for this season plus two more years with a player option in 2018-19. This deal is coming off the heels of Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors. Immediately after Durant’s departure questions arose about whether or not Westbrook was going to remain part of the Thunder organization long-term.
Of course, if you are the Thunder resigning Westbrook was of utmost importance. After losing James Harden and Durant with nothing in return, they needed Westbrook to commit or to trade him for some guaranteed value. Many teams were ready to woo Westbrook in free agency next season, however, this extension has squashed that dream for outlier organizations like the Los Angeles Lakers.
Westbrook will be in OKC for the next two years but there is no guarantee he stays beyond the contract. The extension seems to be a win-win for Westbrook and the Thunder. Oklahoma City avoids losing a third top-10 NBA player with nothing in return. While Westbrook now has two years to prove himself in OKC as the team’s undeniable leader. He willingly accepts the challenge of being the guy in OKC and carrying the Thunder on his back.
— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) August 4, 2016
The next move for OKC is to land another all-star like Blake Griffin who will be a highly sought free agent next year. If the Thunder intend to keep Russ beyond his 2018-19 option year, they must build around him with talent. If they fail to do so within two years a homecoming with a budding team like the Lakers might be more appealing.