They’re closing in on step one of their post-Kevin Durant plan.
Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, the agent for Oklahoma City superstar Russell Westbrook, is engaged in serious talks with the Thunder on a contract renegotiation that could secure Westbrook through the 2018-19 season in Oklahoma City, league sources told The Vertical.
No deal has been finalized for the five-time All-Star guard, but there’s momentum toward a three-year, $85 million-plus maximum contract renegotiation agreement, league sources told The Vertical.
The proposed deal would include a player option on the third year, which would clear the way for Westbrook to return to free agency in 2018.
Because they have enough cap space, the Thunder can renegotiate Westbrook’s 2016-17 salary from $17,769,374 to his max of $26,540,100. In exchange, they’ll want something in return – him delaying free agency. This could work out for both sides.
With a max renegotiation-and-extension, Westbrook would earn:
- 2016-17: $26,540,100
- 2017-18: $28,530,608
- 2018-19: $30,670,403 (player option)
- Total: $85,741,111
A key number: Westbrook’s raises. If he gets 7.5% (as reflected above), the Thunder can’t trade him for six months. If he gets 4.5% or less, they could trade him immediately.
Westbrook would be delaying free agency only one year. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Oklahoma City to leverage this extension into a better trade return if it fears losing Westbrook in a year. Considering the team’s likely decline without Durant, it’s certainly possible Westbrook would still bolt in 2018.
He’ll be a 10-year veteran then and, based on the last few Collective Bargaining Agreements, eligible for a higher max salary. This could be as much about money as loyalty for Westbrook.
Likewise, it could be as much about trade leverage as devotion to Westbrook for the Thunder.