On Friday, Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension to remain the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder through the 2022-2023 season.
On Saturday, his new teammate Paul George indicated that Westbrook’s decision to stay in OKC will certainly impact the decision that he makes next summer when he hits free agency.
"We've been on an unbelievable start right now, and for him to be committed here, it says a lot," George told ESPN’s Royce Young. "Not only in us pairing together, but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot. And I'm one person that's enjoying it here, so I think when that time comes, the decision will be easier to make for myself."
"From the commitment from the front office all the way down to Russ, the commitment here is off the charts," George, who will almost certainly demand a max deal, stated.
For much of the past season, it was presumed that he had a desire to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers. But, after he was traded to Oklahoma City, he brought up the possibility that he and Westbrook would make a move together in the summer of 2018. Some thought that was an indication that both would go west to Los Angeles, but with Westbrook in place, George would be the only one leaving if he takes that route.
"I had a feeling he wanted to remain a Thunder," George told Young. "But again, you let guys deal with their situations, and that's what it was. He had to make his decision.”
Fellow teammate Carmelo Anthony, the third part of OKC’s new “Big Three”, explained that he was also impressed at the mutual commitment between Westbrook and the club.
"I was happy, I was happy," Anthony said. "Everybody should be happy, everybody should be excited about right now [and] the future. He's the cornerstone of this organization, and he's proven that yesterday by agreeing to that deal not only showing this organization his commitment, but showing [Oklahoma City] his commitment to them, too.”
Melo didn’t go into any details about his future, leaving that up to everyone’s imagination.
"I'm gonna tell you right now, I'm not even answering those questions," Anthony told Young. "I don't even want to touch those questions right now. I don't even want to alter my focus and my vision right now, being in training camp and trying to get things rolling, trying to establish/re-establish something here.”
Nonetheless, the Thunder’s future looks even brighter with both Westbrook and George in the picture together, assuming that the franchise will be interested in extending George as well after the upcoming campaign.