Russell Westbrook will stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder for five more years and will earn a whopping $205 million along the way. The reigning NBA Most Valuable Player now has the most lucrative contract in the league’s history after the deal was finalized on Friday.
The five-year, $205 million extension follows the three-year extension he signed in August. The designated player veteran extension (DPE), which Westbrook was eligible for after spending his first nine seasons with Oklahoma City and winning the MVP award last year, allowed the NBA superstar to sign for five more seasons at 35 percent of the team’s salary cap.
Westbrook, who is still owed $28 million from the last year of his previous extension, will now make a guaranteed $223 million in the next six years, which ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski described as the “biggest total contract” in NBA history.
Westbrook announced the development by releasing an official statement. Russell also posted a photo on Twitter showing himself in a Thunder uniform along with the caption, “WHY NOT?”
The statement read, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is no place I would rather be than Oklahoma City.”
“When you play in Oklahoma City, you play in front of the best fans in the world,” Westbrook continued. “I’m looking forward to bringing everything I’ve got for them, this city, and for this organization.”
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti also released a statement.
“Russell’s commitment to the Thunder organization since its inception in 2008 has helped propel us to great heights and stare down great challenges over our first decade.”
“We are extremely fortunate to have an athlete, competitor and person such as Russell wear the Thunder uniform,” Presti continued. “To have him cement his legacy as a leader as we enter into our 10th season in Oklahoma City is extraordinary.”
The contract runs through the 2022-23 NBA season with a player option for that year.
Interestingly, Westbrook signed the deal on September 29, which also happens to be the day his former teammate, Kevin Durant, was born.
Just mentioning for no reason at all not related to anything in the world at all… today is Kevin Durant's birthday.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 29, 2017
While Westbrook is laughing his way to the bank and the Thunder faithful are smiling at the thought of a possible NBA championship or championships, some are ridiculing the Los Angeles Lakers and their fans.
As SB Nation pointed out, Lakers fans have a tendency to photoshop impending free-agents into the famed purple and gold uniforms. It’s been done with the likes of Tracy McGrady back in the day. In recent years, DeMar Derozan, DeMarcus Cousins, Ben Simmons, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James have been fitted digitally into Lakers uniforms. Some even went out of their way to have an actual jersey with the NBA star’s name made.
Sorry, Lakers fans. https://t.co/55dRQX9wiO
— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 29, 2017
The Lakers’ bosses are also likely on the edge of their seats right now with news of the extension. When Paul George hinted that he wanted out of the Indiana Pacers, most in the basketball world assumed a homecoming with the Lakers was a lock. Now that he’ll be playing with Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma, things are not so bright for Lakerland.
As it stands, the Lakers’ management and fan base are still hoping for George, LeBron, and maybe Cousins to pick up the slack and help bring the Lakers back to its former glory. But if they fail to sign George, or any other NBA superstar, the Lakers will indeed be the league laughingstock come next season, especially after being fined $500,000 for tampering.
[Featured Image by Sue Ogrocki/AP Images]