Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder have reached an agreement in principle on a new three-year contract worth $85.7 million, league sources told ESPN and Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical has confirmed.
After Kevin Durant left OKC to join the Golden State Warriors in the summer, many had speculated that his former partner in crime would not be far behind him.
However, the 27-year-old five-time All-Star has surprised everyone by seemingly agreeing to stay in Oklahoma for the foreseeable future. It is expected he will sign the new deal today.
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Talks between the two parties centered on the addition of two more years to Westbrook's current deal, which expires after the 2016-17 season. The new deal gifts the guard an $8.7 million increase in his salary for the upcoming season, from $17.8 million to the maximum $26.5 million. He would then earn the max the next two seasons as well.
Only one of those two seasons are guaranteed, though, and the two-time All-Star game MVP will have a player option in the third season that will allow him to capitalise on the league rule allowing players who have completed 10 seasons in the league to earn a larger max salary, currently roughly 35 percent of the total team salary cap. See Mike Conley with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Westbrook was a stat-stuffing machine last season and tied Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in the past 50 years with a league-high 18. He averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 10.4 assists last term and finished fourth in the MVP voting.
It has to be considered a major coup for the Thunder who were surely preparing themselves for the worst after KD's departure. Had Russ decided that he also wanted a new beginning, not only would the Thunder have fallen away from playoff contention, they almost certainly would have become a lottery team.
Now, with the backcourt of Victor Oladipo and Westbrook, they have the basis of an ultra-atheltic, explosive backcourt that can compliment the big men like Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. Surely the Thunder will look to bring in another star to compliment Westbrook and chances are they will be an aggressive force in free agency next summer.