Dan Feldman

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Report: Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant’s goodbye text

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There’s clearly some bitterness between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Durant left for the Warriors, and Westbrook doubled down with the Thunder. There could be issues handling the split.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

In Westbrook’s world, Durant had been deleted like his old teammate’s text message saying goodbye on the way to Golden State.

Did Durant reach out in any other, more personal, ways? Did Westbrook respond before deleting the text?

This isn’t necessarily as harsh as it seems.

But it sure seems pretty darn harsh.

Russell Westbrook says he has ‘loved’ playing for Thunder entire career, makes contract extension official

Russell Westbrook
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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There’s no more room for second thoughts.

After he reportedly initially resisted the idea, Russell Westbrook‘s renegotiation-and-extension is official.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed guard Russell Westbrook to a contract extension, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“I am grateful to extend my contract with the Thunder and continue to play with the only organization that I have played for and have loved being a part of since I was drafted into the NBA,” said Westbrook. “I’m really excited about moving forward with this group of guys and continuing to play in front of the best fans in the world.”

“On behalf of the Thunder organization and the entire State of Oklahoma I want to congratulate Russ and offer my sincere appreciation for not only his profound presence and skill as a player, but for his high character, personal integrity and extraordinary leadership,” said Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder chairman. “We are thrilled he will continue with us and we look forward to exciting days ahead for the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

“Russell has been an outstanding leader of this team since he was drafted by our organization eight years ago. His competitiveness, character, and unique athletic ability have propelled him to the forefront of the game,” said Presti. “Russell personifies many of the traits that are synonymous with Oklahoma and Oklahomans. We are excited that Russell has chosen to continue to build the legacy of the Thunder with us as we move forward together.”

Based on reports, Westbrook – who was set to earn $17,769,374 next season – will instead get:

  • 2016-17: $26,540,100
  • 2017-18: $28,530,608
  • 2018-19: $30,670,403 (player option)
  • Total: $85,741,111

He’ll very likely opt out in 2018, when he’ll have 10 years of experience. In the last three Collective Bargaining Agreements, including the current one, that has been the threshold for the highest max-salary tier.

The Thunder will have between now and then to assemble a quality supporting cast around him. This doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Westbrook leaving. It just postpones it.

Barring a late change in contract terms, Oklahoma City can’t trade Westbrook for six months. That leaves a 12-day window before the trade deadline and anytime between next offseason and the following trade deadline.

Assuredly, that’s a last resort. The Thunder want to win with Westbrook, and they did a great job to get the opportunity. (It obviously helps that they could entice Westbrook with more than an $8 million raise.)

Now, it’s time to capitalize.

Kevin Durant: Too ‘touchy’ to congratulate Russell Westbrook right now

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) high-fives teammate Kevin Durant (35) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Oklahoma City won 111-107. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Kevin Durant irreversibly changed his relationship with Russell Westbrook by leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.

Just how divided are the friends (friends?)?

Durant says he feels uncomfortable congratulating Westbrook on his renegotiation-and-extension.

Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe:

Is Durant being overly fearful? Is his relationship with Westbrook that strained right now?

Players union awards to be announced on social media today

BET Presents The Players' Awards - Backstage
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The players union created its own awards last year, even presenting them on a TV special on BET.

After little fanfare, the awards return this year – on a smaller stage.

National Basketball Players Association release:

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that 2016 Players Voice Awards will be revealed exclusively via social media today beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.
The Players Voice Awards are voted on solely by NBA players

the NBPA created video packages celebrating each winner and featuring testimonials captured in the offseason from dozens of NBA players. These videos will be shared via social media in conjunction with the announcement of the winners. The awards and videos will be revealed via @theNBPA on Twitter beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET today, and NBPA.com will curate all of the content throughout the afternoon.

These sure haven’t supplanted the NBA’s awards, which are mostly voted on by media. They haven’t even proven to be a respected complement to the traditional awards.

Not even players are convinced of the awards’ value, many players skipping last year’s show.

Needless to say, a Twitter rollout isn’t a step toward prominence.

That said, I – and I’m sure other hardcore NBA fans – are still curious. Here’s the full slate of honors to be named today:

  • Best Rookie
  • Comeback Player of the Year
  • Best Off the Bench
  • Best Defender
  • Toughest to Guard
  • Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team
  • Best Dressed
  • Home Court Advantage
  • Coach You’d Most Like to Play For
  • Clutch Performer
  • Best Social Media Follow
  • Most Influential Veteran
  • Global Impact
  • Most Valuable Player
  • Best Teammate (one per team)

Why Thunder probably won’t sign Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Andre Roberson to contract extensions

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 18:  Victor Oladipo #5 of the Orlando Magic drives against Steven Adams #12 and Andre Roberson #21 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the game at Amway Center on January 18, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
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Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are all eligible for contract extensions.

The Thunder probably won’t extend any of the three.

Russell Westbrook‘s renegotiation-and-extension gives Oklahoma City an extra year persuade Westbrook he should stay, but he’ll still be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. The clock is ticking, and the best course to upgrading the roster involves beginning the 2017 offseason with Oladipo, Adams and Roberson unsigned.

If one of the three fourth-year players were to sign an extension, his cap number on July 1 would be his 2017-18 salary. If they forgo extensions, their cap number will be a percentage of their previous salary. For each, that’d be:

  • Oladipo: $13,105,921
  • Adams: $7,851,293
  • Roberson: $5,457,681

All three are likely to command a salary above their cap hold – maybe even up to their projected max of nearly $24 million for Oladipo and Adams. So Oklahoma City can count those players at their cap holds, use its cap space then exceed the cap to re-sign them using Bird Rights.

But that was always the case. What does Westbrook’s extension change?

Theoretically, Oladipo, Adams or Roberson could’ve accepted less over the course of a long-term extension to outweigh the Thunder’s cap-space reduction in 2017. But with Westbrook still headed toward free agency so soon, 2017 becomes a much bigger priority than 2019 or 2020.

The Thunder must impress Westbrook before he can leave in 2018.

With Oladipo’s, Adams’ and Roberson’s cap holds, Oklahoma City would be an Enes Kanter trade and one other small deal from offering a max contract next summer to someone with fewer than 10 years experience – say Oklahoma native Blake Griffin.

It might not be easy to trade Kanter. It might not be easy to swing a second salary dump without downgrading the roster too greatly. It might not be easy to lure Griffin or anyone else.

The salary cap could change from the latest projection. The entire Collective Bargaining Agreement could change.

But by not extending Oladipo, Adams and Roberson, the Thunder maximize their 2017 flexibility. And Oklahoma City would face only limited risk of losing those players. All three will be restricted free agents.

If the Thunder strike out in 2017, it might be time to trade Westbrook before he hits 2018 free agency.

But, before it comes to that, Oklahoma City can take its best swing next summer by not extending Oladipo, Adams or Roberson now.