There could be NBA trade rumors coming this summer should NBA MVP Russell Westbrook decline to sign a huge contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. On the same night that Westbrook joined Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant as winners of the league’s MVP honors, a new report also arrived with regards to his possible future. Could the Thunder potentially make a deal involving their biggest star in order to try to rebuild their roster?
The latest report from CBS Sports’ Jack Maloney discusses the future of Russell Westbrook with his longtime team. It’s speculated in the article that the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t want to suffer a similar fate as they did with their previous star Kevin Durant. He left prior to this past season as a free agent and signed with the Golden State Warriors. That left OKC without their superstar and with nothing in return while Durant went on to win his first NBA Championship. Therefore, the plan is to offer Westbrook a huge contract extension to keep him on board as a member of the Thunder roster before he has the chance to opt out of his player option.
That deal could be a five-year Designated Player Extension valued at over $200 million. If Westbrook agreed to the deal, it would make him the NBA’s richest superstar. However, if Westbrook declined the deal which could come this summer, it would signal his intentions of becoming a free agent at the end of the season. If the team senses that will be Westbrook’s intention, it could force them to start shopping their top star before they simply lose him for nothing in return.
Westbrook could possibly make that decision to leave based on a true lack of talent around him. Despite winning the NBA MVP Award for his body of work this past season, it’s been argued that without another scorer or playmaker on the OKC roster, Westbrook has little chance of moving this team far in the postseason. There had been rumors of bringing free agent Blake Griffin to the team, but OKC would need to clear up a lot of salary space in order to do so.
While there are other star free agents available this summer, most of them would come with a high price. Since Oklahoma City would want to possibly keep Westbrook on board too, that makes things difficult for a team with little salary space to work with. Any other star the team added may have to take a pay cut, but would they do so without any real guarantee that a championship would be in their future?
With Westbrook averaging a near triple-double this past season and leading his team in the playoffs, one would think he would be the future of this Oklahoma City team. However, teams also shift their plans in order to try to win championships. It’s always possible that Thunder management could determine Westbrook isn’t a player to build those NBA title aspirations around despite how good his stats have looked.
On its surface, a headline suggesting a Russell Westbrook trade by the Thunder right now seems absurd. However, in today’s NBA, it seems All-Stars are changing teams at a rapid pace. With free agency and the way Kevin Durant left along with Paul George’s recent announcement, teams are wisely looking to get something in return for their valuable stars.
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