Though this summer Oklahoma City suffered the loss of one transcendent cornerstone, it appears another has wholeheartedly embraced the "Big Friendly." Late Wednesday afternoon, several sources announced five-time All Star Russell Westbrook agreed in principle to a three-year maximum extension with the Thunder.
While full details of the renegotiation are undisclosed, reports state the star-guard will earn $85 million or more through 2019. Westbrook's restructured contract includes a stark salary increase from $17.8 to $26.5 million in 2016-2017. In 2018, OKC's leading man will receive a pay bump of $2 million. At the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, Westbrook holds a player option of $30.6 million.
Following an off-season of tumult, Thunder fans have reason to rejoice concerning this uplifting turn of events. Although the superstar pairing of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant is no longer, a brave new chapter in OKC basketball begins Thursday morning when Westbrook is set to finalize his new agreement.
Pursuant to a monumental roster overhaul, next season Westbrook will find himself flanked by a revamped cast of supporting characters. Chief among these additions is workout partner Victor Oladipo. Meanwhile, Ersan Ilyasova, Alex Abrines, Domantas Sabonis and Ronnie Price will join the explosive back-court tandem come October.
General Manager Sam Presti shrewdly rebuilt on the fly following Durant's shocking defection to Golden State. Free-agents Dion Waiters and Randy Foye were let go, while a staggering return was yielded from a draft-night trade of Serge Ibaka. These transactions allowed Presti requisite cap-space to offer Westbrook a multi-year extension.
With their All-NBA floor general in tow, the Thunder organization now posture themselves as major players for next summer's crop of free-agent talent.
A press conference is expected following Russell Westbrook's contract extension. Last season the 27-year-old, former NBA scoring champ averaged 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds while posting his second highest (27.6) PER.
UPDATE: Earlier this afternoon the Oklahoma City Thunder released a press statement regarding Russell Westbrook's official re-signing. After finalizing his $85.7 million deal, Westbrook had these words for the Thunder community:
I am grateful to extend my contract with the Thunder and continue to play with the only organization that I have played for and have loved being a part of since I was drafted into the NBA, I’m really excited about moving forward with this group of guys and continuing to play in front of the best fans in the world."
Other headline making news from around the association includes:
NBA.com analyzes which grouping will be Team USA's most effective in Rio.
A look at Team USA's Group A schedule on the road to Olympic glory.
Awesome work by the WTLC crew to break the Russell Westbrook story.
As mentioned in the above article, Westbrook stands to benefit financially from his proposed accord. SB Nation looks at the future state of Westbrook and OKC basketball.
News Ok's Barry Tramel has a new nickname for Russell Westbrook...."Mr. Thunder."