Russell Westbrook Signs Extension With The Oklahoma City Thunder
The Russell Westbrook era in Oklahoma City will continue for at least three more years.
The All-Star point guard signed a contract extension with the Thunder on Thursday. The Associated Press reports the deal is worth $85.7 million.
Fans cheered Westbrook’s name as he entered the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday for a press conference to announce the extension. He told reporters there’s no place he would rather be than Oklahoma City.
“You guys have basically raised me. I’ve been here since I was 18, 19 years old and you guys did nothing but great things for me, through the good and the bad, you guys supported me overall and through it all and I appreciate it,” Westbrook said.
Westbrook averaged 23.5 points and 10.4 assists last season for a Thunder team that came within one win of the NBA Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Westbrook said he didn’t see any reason to waste time deciding on his basketball future if he knew he wanted to play in Oklahoma City.
“Definitely when I had the opportunity to be able to be loyal to you guys, that’s the number one option and loyalty is something I stand by,” Westbrook said.
A player who won’t return next year cast a long shadow over Westbrook’s new contract: Kevin Durant. The fellow All-Star signed a free agent deal with the Warriors last month. Westbrook said Durant’s departure opened the door for his own extension with the Thunder.
Westbrook said Durant gave him no indication he would leave the team.
“I found out like you all find out, on the news, on the cell phone, on the social media. I talked to Kevin prior to, earlier on in the process. Nothing after. It was just a text message from him. That’s it,” Westbrook said.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti praised Westbrook for his leadership and competitiveness. Presti said he has never seen Westbrook take a night off during his eight years with the team.
“As excited as I am, I’m also grateful because you have an opportunity for a legacy player to put his stamp on continuing with the organization,” Presti said.
Presti has been busy during the offseason. In addition to losing Durant and Dion Waiters to free agency, he dealt forward Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic in a package for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to draft Domantas Sabonis. Presti sees Westbrook as the glue that will hold the newly configured team together.
“I’ve got the utmost confidence, not only in Russell’s leadership ability, but he’s gotten better every single season and I think we’re going to see continued growth and dimensions to his game, just given the adjustments to the personnel,” Presti said. “There is, I think, even more room for him to grow and you’re to see an even better player over time.”