Update: Westbrook, Thunder agree in principle; see below
According to sources, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is in what is being referred to as 'serious talks' with the Thunder management to sign a contract negotiation that could keep him in OKC through the 2019 season. While no deal is yet final, the prospective terms involve an $85 million contract renegotiation extension with a 3rd year option.
Our amazing team of writers here at WTLC first broke the story, as Sarah Dewberry, Kevin Nesgoda (WTLC contributor and managing editor at Sonics Rising), and Adam Joseph worked together to piece together the scoop:
Westbrook is about to sign an extension with OKC. Details are with the league for final approvals. Press conference tomorrow.— Kevin Nesgoda (@KDN4) August 3, 2016
Russell Westbrook is set to sign an extension with OKC. Details are with the league for final approvals. Press conference is tomorrow.— Adam Joseph (@AdamJosephSport) August 3, 2016
Thunder fans, rejoice! (via@KDN4) Russell Westbrook is about to sign an extension with OKC. Details are with the... https://t.co/58OoBULlD9— Sarah Dewberry (@Sarah__Dewberry) August 3, 2016
A few hours later, Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the breaking news and included the details that are on the table.
In the structure of a proposed deal, the renegotiation would move Westbrook's salary in 2016-17 from $17.8 million to a $26.5 million max salary. Westbrook would make $28.5 million in 2017-18 and $30.6 million in the third year under the proposed renegotiated deal. Oklahoma City is able to offer the extension because it has the appropriate salary-cap space available.
For now, Westbrook is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in 2017, and a new contractual commitment to Oklahoma City in the wake of Kevin Durant's departure could be instrumental in recruiting another elite free agent to the Thunder's talented core next summer.
The chance to lock up Westbrook has been priority #1 for Sam Presti and the Thunder since the moment that Kevin Durant decided to leave via free agency and join the Warriors. Numerous offers had been on the table over the past few weeks to trade Westbrook, but as Nesgoda reported, Presti didn't bite:
To clear up my trade to Boston tweet. Deal was in place to trade him, Presti slept on it, pulled the deal & offered Westbrook a blank check— Kevin Nesgoda (@KDN4) August 4, 2016
Trading Westbrook would have left OKC in full-blown rebuilding mode and likely without equal value in return, but Presti kept working to retain his All-Star point guard. The Westbrook pay bump was created in part by the departure of Dion Waiters, who recently signed with the Miami Heat. Also, as SB Nation's Mike Prada writes, keeping Westbrook for at least 2 more years could pave the way for another All-Star acquisition:
This would compromise that'll buy both time as they try to plot their next move after Durant left. Presti now has two years to rebuild the Thunder around Westbrook instead of one. He began that process with a draft-day deal that sent Serge Ibaka to Orlando for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis. The Thunder also let Dion Waiters go in free agency and signed promising Spanish wing Alex Abrines, but have otherwise been quiet in free agency. The next big step may be to make a run at Blake Griffin or another top target in free agency next year.
Until the story breaks that Westbrook has finally signed on the dotted line, Thunder nation still waits with abated breath. But after several weeks of expecting OKC to trade Westbrook, the news of the closeness of a deal to retain his services is a welcome sight indeed.
We will follow the story as it develops.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski have confirmed the press conference originally reported by Nesgoda, Dewberry and Joseph.
Russell Westbrook has agreed in principle to a new deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It will be signed... https://t.co/vsoIcejzrc— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) August 4, 2016
Sources: Thunder will likely hold a news conference on Thursday with Westbrook, owner Clay Bennett, GM Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) August 4, 2016
Westbrook's been in Los Angeles, working out with Victor Oladipo this week. Donovan has been in gym too. Early morning flight to OKC.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) August 4, 2016
Thursday August 4th, 2016:
#Thunder to hold press conference Thursday at 4:30 p.m. CST to announce Russell Westbrook staying with OKC.— Sarah Dewberry (@Sarah__Dewberry) August 4, 2016
Thunder Official Press Release
For those that are interested, NewOK is going to run a live stream of the press conference on YouTube in just over and hour:
Happy Russell Westbrook Day Everybody!!