Christmas came early in Oklahoma, Westbrook to renew contract with Thunder

The All-Star point guard signed a 3-year, 85.7-M dollar deal with Oklahoma City on Thursday

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Written By: Jordan Branstetter

stating that Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder, are in serious talks about a contract renegotiation to keep the All-Star point guard in Oklahoma City through 2019.

Four hours later, as confirmed per Wojnarowski and sources at The Vertical, Westbrook agreed to a contract extension with the Thunder.

The news comes as a pleasant surprise for Oklahoma City fans, they can now rest easy, at least until the end of the 2017–2018 NBA season. Details of the contract will give Westbrook a player-option to potentially opt-out after the 2017-’18 season according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Ramona Shelburne. The former UCLA Bruin will make 85.7 million over the course of the next three seasons for the Thunder.

General Manager Sam Presti, and the Oklahoma City Thunder organization, had been in close contact with Westbrook ever since the departure of Kevin Durant. Speculation had been surfacing this off season that Oklahoma City might be looking to shop Westbrook to another team because of doubts within the organization whether the Thunder could re-sign him.

Westbrook’s previous contract was set to expire at the end of the 2016–’17 season and was slated to make 17.8 million this upcoming season, but with the contract renegotiation, Westbrook will now make 26.5-M this upcoming season.

Dion Waiters played a part in all of this…

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When Oklahoma City rescinded their qualifying offer of 6.8 million to Dion Waiters on July 18th, it freed up cap space for Oklahoma City to offer Westbrook a max contract while Waiters, was left in the dust. Waiters, had an unfortunate free-agency, in which he was reduced to accepting a one-year deal for a 2.9-M exemption with the Miami Heat, ouch.

A victory for the small-market teams in the NBA…

Nevertheless, this is a victory for small-market teams in the NBA, where superstars seem to depart to join bigger-market teams.

A prime example happened just a month ago, when Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors by electing not to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Back in 2010, Lebron James forwent re-signing with the small-market Cleveland Cavaliers and elected to join the Miami Heat.

My research indicated that…

Dating back to 2007, when Kevin Garnett left the Minnesota Timberwolves for the Boston Celtics, I found that there have been at least 8 NBA “superstars” to leave small-market teams to join bigger-market teams. Westbrook made a statement early-Thursday morning by re-signing with the Thunder and reversing the trend of small-market misfortune.

Russell Westbrook is an icon in the eyes of many in the state of Oklahoma with the aftermath of this news. Worth noting, Westbrook, is expected to be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in November of 2016. A prestigious honor for the 27-year old from Long Beach, California.

Update: The Thunder announced today, that a 4:30 P.M. press conference will take place for a “major announcement,” and one can only assume what the topic of the press conference will be about. Stay tuned, Thunder fans, and enjoy this moment!