There’s no more room for second thoughts.
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.