Earlier this summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder offered Russell Westbrook a five-year, $207 million super-max extension to remain the face of the franchise with what would be the richest contract in league history.
While perhaps the rest of the world’s population would have signed the deal by now, the reigning NBA MVP has held off for unknown reasons, which is obviously making Thunder fans worried.
Although Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a real shot at losing both Westbrook and Kevin Durant with no compensation in return, he remains optimistic that an agreement will be made.
"We're going to let that play itself out, and as we've said, he has and we have until the 16th of October to be permitted to sign that. ... We're going to have that offer on the table as long as it's permitted to be there, and obviously we're hopeful that that takes place," Presti said during his media availability on Friday, per ESPN’s Royce Young. "But until the 16th passes, I'm not going to put a label or adjective or anything like that on it.”
If Westbrook rejects the extension, he would become an unrestricted free agent next summer and would likely receive interest from every single team in the process. Therefore, trading Westbrook might be the smart route to take for Presti, who could demand a king’s ransom in the form of players or draft picks in the hope of a quick rebuild.
If not, it would be a tough pill to swallow for Thunder fans, who would watch KD and then Westbrook leave.
"I think it would be easy for me to sit here and speculate and create a million narratives, but I don't think that's really productive," Presti said of the idea of shopping Westbrook. "I think let's get to the 16th, and if we get to the 16th, we'll get our answer, and then we'll move from there.”
Therefore, he didn’t confirm the chance of a trade, but he also didn’t rule out the possibility. If Westbrook signs, it changes the entire situation, as the team would likely set its sights on either re-signing Paul George or landing another high-profile free agent next summer.
In August of 2016, Westbrook signed the extension that he’s currently playing under and in the process, he made some very strong remarks about loyalty and what OKC has meant to him.
"There's nowhere else I would rather be than Oklahoma City," Westbrook said at the news conference after signing that contract. "You guys have basically raised me. I've been here since I was 18, 19 years old. You guys did nothing but great things for me. Through the good and the bad, you guys supported me through it all, and I appreciate it. Definitely when I had the opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that's the No. 1 option. Loyalty is something that I stand by.”
Thunder fans will hope that he stands by those principles once again.