The Thunder finally got the answer they were looking for from Russell Westbrook, as the reigning MVP has reportedly agreed to the 5-year, $205 million max contract extension that has been on the table all summer. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news on Friday, with USA Today’s Sam Amick confirming and reporting the final year of the deal is a player option.
The Thunder made Westbrook’s signing official shortly after it was reportedly done, with owner Clay Bennett releasing a statement.
The signing comes after the Thunder were able to make major moves this summer in bringing in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in trades, showing Westbrook a commitment to spending and making improvements to the team after last season’s supporting cast struggled to provide their star point guard with enough help to really make waves in the West. Now, Oklahoma City has a legitimate contender, at least for 2017-18, and that was enough to convince Westbrook to stay around through his prime.
The deal brings his six-year contract total to $233 million, the most in NBA history, per Wojnarowski. When Westbrook’s extension kicks in in 2018-19, his first year’s salary will jump to $35.3 million.
It’s news that has been expected, but after so much waiting it allows Thunder fans and the organization to breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing they won’t see all their stars bolt next summer. With Westbrook now locked up, the Thunder can focus on doing everything they can to keep Paul George in town when he hits free agency in 2018. George has long been rumored to want to join the Lakers, but with Westbrook locked up and the Lakers still a very young team, it’s possible that Oklahoma City — which will be able to offer him more money than L.A. — can convince him to stay with Westbrook long-term.
Westbrook also agreed to the deal, coincidentally or not, on Kevin Durant’s birthday, which some will read into as a message to the former Thunder star. Considering their war of pettiness that has been waging for more than a year, I wouldn’t put it past Russ to be doing that at least somewhat on purpose.