Russell Westbrook did little to squash the NBA rumors that he will forgo his $200 million extension and leave the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the All-Star guard appearing to dodge questions about the extension that he now has a little more than two weeks to sign.
Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of the busiest teams this offseason — landing both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony — there is still what CBS Sports calls “a massive, dark cloud” hanging over the team as they move towards training camp. That is the five-year, $207 million contract extension that the team offered to Westbrook after the season, one that Westbrook has until October 16 to either sign or forgo, which would have him headed for free agency after the season ends.
When asked at the team’s media day about his intentions on signing the deal, Westbrook appeared to dodge the question, saying only that he was happy with the Thunder.
“Man it’s been a long, long summer,” Westbrook said. “I had a baby. So I’ve been working on a little fatherhood. But like I said before, man, this is the place I want to be. I love being here. I’m excited about the season — obviously a lot of new changes. I’m excited. From that, I’ll leave it there.”
If Russell Westbrook chooses not to sign the extension, the rumors around the NBA indicate that he might be looking for a move back to his native Los Angeles to play for the Lakers. A report from NJ.com speculated that Westbrook could join LeBron James and current teammate Paul George in forming a new L.A. superteam, though none of those three have given any public indication that they plan to make such a dramatic move.
The X-factor for Melo?— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 25, 2017
Russell Westbrook. pic.twitter.com/sDuuFOxPOK
There is some thought that Westbrook may want to see how the rest of the season plays out before exploring his options. Though the Thunder appear to be stacked for the 2017-18 season and possibly the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference, the future is far from set. Both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony could decide to head to free agency after the season is over, so if the team should falter or fail to find the right chemistry, Russell Westbrook could be included to leave as well.
With Russell Westbrook’s signing deadline a little more than two weeks away, expect the NBA rumors to only grow until he makes a public decision — and likely kick into overdrive throughout the season if he elects not to sign the deal.
[Featured Image by J Pat Carter/Getty Images]