The Oklahoma City Thunder have some hard choices coming in the next few years as they try to keep this core together — but Russell Westbrook just made that a little bit easier.
Westbrook has reached a max extension deal with the Thunder, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook has signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension with the Oklahoma, league sources told Yahoo! Sports….
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, Westbrook could’ve been eligible for a maximum deal worth 30 percent of the Thunder’s salary cap next season. To do so, he needed to satisfy requirements that included him being named to the All-NBA team twice in four years. Nevertheless, Westbrook gets an extension that pays him 25 percent of the Thunder’s cap and preserves space that allows the franchise to construct future deals for James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
That last part is key — Westbrook could have gotten a “Derrick Rose” rule deal (if he makes the All-Star Game again this season), which is what the Thunder modified Kevin Durant’s deal to be. It would mean more money in Westbook’s pocket (about $15 million total over five years), but would also means 60 percent of the Thunder’s cap space would be tied up in two players and keeping guys like Harden would have been difficult.
The Yahoo report says Westbrook did not get that kind of deal, he got the 25 percent of the salary cap deal he can sign now. If he does not get a bump up to a Rose rule size contract — and it appears he is not — this is a great deal for the Thunder.
They apparently sold him on this as a way to keep the core of this contending team together and he accepted the sacrifice. It still will not be easy — Harden in particular is coveted by other teams and he could see tempting offers — but now the Thunder stand a better chance. OKC hopes to sign Harden to a deal around $11-12 million a year. They already have Kendrick Perkins at $9 million plus, and there is Serge Ibaka who will need an extension.
How much the small market Thunder owners are willing to spend and pay in luxury tax (especially after the more onerous provisions kick in after a couple years) remains to be seen.
Bottom line, the Thunder now have Westbrook and Durant locked up. With that they are going to be very good for the next five years, regardless.
Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.
In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.
After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.
As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.
Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.
But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.
The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.
The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.
This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.
Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.
Choose your spin.
This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.
This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.
Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.
Now, just 50 games later…
Marc Stein of ESPN:
I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.
Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.
It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.
One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.
My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.