Russell Westbrook’s name has been coming up in trade rumors every single day since Kevin Durant decided to sign with the Golden State Warriors. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been hoping to keep him long-term, but they have also been forced to consider the option of trading him.
According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Thunder are nearing a contract extension with their superstar point guard.
Per our report on Westbrook/OKC discussions, there's significant momentum toward a 3-year, $85M agreement – with player option for 2018-'19
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) August 4, 2016
Oklahoma City is the place that Westbrook sounds like he wants to be. After seeing the way that Durant left, it sounds like Westbrook could very well be interested in having Sam Presti build the team around him.
Last season with the Thunder, Westbrook took over as the face of the franchise and best player. He averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game. Westbrook shot 45.4 percent from the field overall and knocked down 29.6 percent from the field overall.
At 27-years-old, the Thunder could certainly build their future around Westbrook if they get an extension done. He is the type of scorer that can lead a team to the playoffs, although he will need a lot of help if the Thunder want to compete with the Warriors to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
Wojnarowski reported for Yahoo! Sports that the Thunder are interested in signing Blake Griffin in free agency next offseason to pair alongside Westbrook.
A duo of Westbrook and Griffin could take the Thunder back towards the top of the conference. They would be able to work off each other much better than Durant and Westbrook were ever able to. The duo would also make for one of the most entertaining one-two punches in the entire NBA.
It will be very interesting to see what ends up happening next offseason, but the Thunder have to figure out Westbrook’s contract situation first. Westbrook would be making the right decision to sign an extension with the Thunder. They will be more loyal to him than most teams are to their stars due to the fact that he stuck with them despite the team losing another superstar.
Needless to say, this is a huge step in the right direction for the Thunder and their fans should be excited about the news. It doesn’t mean that a deal is done, but the two sides obviously have a mutual interest in making something happen.
Griffin isn’t the only high-profile free agent that the Thunder could target next offseason. There are plenty of big names available that Westbrook could help recruit. Oklahoma City has to feel good about their chances to get back into contention if they are able to lock Westbrook up.
There is still plenty of time for Westbrook to change his mind over the next few days. Just because the two sides are discussing a deal doesn’t mean he has already agreed to it.
Expect to hear plenty more news surrounding the potential contract extension over the next 24 hours. The media will be all over this and Westbrook’s name will once again dominate the NBA offseason. It is likely that the two sides will end up working something out, but only time will tell.
Westbrook is the heart and soul of the Thunder and they cannot afford to lose him. If talks end up breaking down and he leaves next offseason, a complete rebuild will surely follow.
Do you think that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Russell Westbrook will get the contract extension done? Will the Thunder be a serious contender again in the next few seasons? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by LM Otero/AP Images]