Kevin Durant is gone from the Thunder and now the future of the team is in the hands of Russell Westbrook. The problem is that the Thunder might not feel comfortable with keeping Westbrook on the team if they do not know his long-term plans. If OKC was to lose two top five players in back-to-back years with nothing to show for it then it would set the franchise back years.
All that puts pressure on not only Westbrook but also Sam Presti to make the move to either sign Westbrook or trade him. There is almost no doubt that Presti has already talked to Westbrook about signing an extension and now that Dion Waiters has moved on from the team the Thunder have the money available to give Westbrook the max. The question is, what is the hold up? Why has Westbrook not yet signed an extension?
If Westbrook were to sign an extension right now it would up his salary for this coming season by $8.7 million. Westbrook signing a four year extension would also make him more money in the long run. No team could offer Westbrook a better four year contract out of free agency than the Thunder could out of an extension. According to Hoops Rumors Westbrook’s extension could get him a total of $118 million over four years and if he were to sign with another team in free agency this offseason he would get a max of only $108.2 million. No one can look out for Westbrook better than the Thunder can.
There are only two logical reasons why Westbrook has yet to extension with the Thunder, one of them is good news and one of them is quite the opposite. The first one is that Westbrook not only wants a four year extension for the Thunder, he wants a five year deal that they could give him in free agency. Since the Thunder hold his Birds Rights they are the only team that could offer him that long of a deal. The bad side of the subject is that Westbrook does not want to sign an extension now because he wants to explore his options after this season. If Westbrook even considers wanting to look around then again, the Thunder cannot risk anything and must trade him from the team.
All of this money on the line for Westbrook with the long term deals but really want makes the most sense is for Westbrook to sign an two year extension with the Thunder. A two year extension would put Westbrook into free agency in 2018. That offseason would be after his tenth season in the league and would enable him to 35% of a team’s salary cap for his max offer. The only risk there is the NBA creating a new collective bargaining agreement which changes how all of free agency works. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has stated that he would like to make a deal with the players which is more team friendly, making it easier for teams to keep the players they drafted.
Westbrook is in control of the Thunder’s future and if he wants money then OKC is the way to go and if he doesn’t then he will explore his options with other teams. While Westbrook’s decision can change everything, there is no doubt that general manager Sam Presti has a plan either way.