An important crossroads is upon the Oklahoma City Thunder and superstar Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook signed a three-year, $85 million extension with Oklahoma city last year, a month after the Thunder unexpectedly lost Kevin Durant in free agency to the Golden State Warriors.
Under the NBA’s new CBA, the Thunder have the ability to sign Westbrook to a five-year, $217 million supermax contract deal.
Westbrook has a player option on the final year of that contract that can allow him to be a free agent in 2018.
So, the Thunder are again at a crossroads with a franchise player.
“The rules are that you can’t have that conversation until July 1, and you know, when that time comes, we’ll sit down, we’ll have conversations with him about what that opportunity presents,” Thunder exec Sam Presti said Monday (h/t RealGM).
“And you know, we’re obviously hopeful that he remains really excited about being a part of this organization for the remainder of his career.”
The team also has to consider the possibility that Westbrook doesn’t sign an extension and that, if he does not, he could be a free agent in 2018.
That scenario would fuel trade speculation and could put pressure on the Thunder to trade Westbrook instead of lose him for nothing in free agency.
“Let’s not think so far ahead,” Presti said.
“Let’s just see where the information takes us. I understand the question. I think the biggest thing is, we had that conversation with Russell last year, and you know, he was really clear, and it worked itself out. So before we get all the way down the road on what if, what if this happens, what if that happens: Again, that’s one of those things where we’re talking about a very complex question, a very complex situation with a lot of moving parts, and looking for, like, a simple answer to that.”
It’s an important time for the Thunder and their remaining superstar after the departures of Durant and James Harden.