With fellow franchise player Kevin Durant now a Warrior, Oklahoma City's remaining thunder Russell Westbrook won't be shipped anytime soon. According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, Westbrook has the confidence of OKC management though he recently turned down a contract extension.
Amid rampant speculation and trade rumors, Westbrook isn't ruling out a Thunder return once his current contract expires at season's end. Though the five-time All Star did decline a freshly offered extension, that's understandable given next summer's even crazier salary-cap spike.
While there are no shortage of teams clamoring for Westbrook's services now, or when he officially becomes a free-agent, sources claim Westbrook is ever more resolute to remain in OKC following Durant's shocking departure.
This narrative comes as no surprise given Westbrook's unparalleled competitive nature. According to Sam Presti via CBS Sports, Oklahoma City's GM believes a spurned Westbrook will look upon himself to lead the Thunder in Durant's absence.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti told reporters Monday that he thinks Westbrook will take on the challenge of leading the team without Durant. He also revealed that Westbrook and longtime Oklahoma city forward Nick Collison had dinner with Durant just before free-agency started.
Westbrook's unsuccessful pitch to KD over that dinner left an acrid taste in the former 2015 scoring champ's mouth. And rightfully so, a heartfelt plea to Durant detailing OKC's status aloft the precipice of greatness apparently fell upon deaf ears.
Now, moving forward, at least in the interim, it appears Westbrook will attempt to maintain this position with a mixture of new faces and veterans.
Though many have demanded Sam Presti immediately trade his star guard, Westbrook is not Durant and could realistically re-sign with the team he's spent his entire professional career with. While Durant is content as an accomplice to greatness; with every breath Westbrook strives to be greatness.
When Durant was relegated to just 27 games in 2015, Westbrook led the Thunder to 45 victories. With a shrewd draft-night talent grab for Serge Ibaka, a Westbrook-led squad could conceivably contend for 50 victories and decent playoff positioning.
While the summer has just begun, there's a monumental wait for opening night 16'-17'. In these months, time will tell if Thunder brass ultimately takes the leap of faith with Westbrook during a contract season. The future of Oklahoma City basketball rests in the hands --and status-- of Russell Westbrook.