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."
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