Nathaniel Friedman for the Victory Journal: “Absolutely nothing about Russell Westbrook has changed; the shift has been in our perception of him. What remains to be seen is how this narrative holds up over the course of an entire season. Certainly, we haven’t uncovered the real Russell Westbrook. We’ve just been afforded the opportunity to see him in a new light. On a fundamental level, Westbrook is allergic to making people too happy or letting them get too comfortable. Whatever it is that compelled him to stay in Oklahoma City, it sure as hell wasn’t you or I. Kevin Durant may have made an unpopular decision, but it’s Westbrook who could give a f— about a popularity contest.”
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report: “While Durant chose to play new-school ball on easy street with the nearly-sure-thing Golden State Warriors, Westbrook wants the colossal challenge of being an old-school main man saddled with the outsized responsibility to will an underdog team someplace no one expects it can go. See how much we’ve learned about them already Separating them clarifies them. Although he’s averse to sharing his deeper truths and strongest convictions with the media, Westbrook has a voice on the basketball court, where he lets loose—and even in the locker room, where he is a funny, even sweet, influence. But if we accept that he doesn’t care to open the window to his soul for strangers, we begin to understand what he is actually doing. He is a person for whom actions speak louder than words.” Keep Reading…
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Jon Hamm for The Franchise: “It also gains another side benefit in this deal: Westbrook’s trade value just took a positive spike. To be clear, such a scenario is one that gets serious consideration only if the team’s internal Doomsday Clock gets moved to a minute before midnight. But it’s impossible to ignore that, should next season head south for any reason, Westbrook becomes much more attractive to other teams with this new extension than he did under his old deal. With only a year left on his contract, Westbrook held some degree of control over his future. A mere “I’m not re-signing with you” from Westbrook would have deflated offers. Now teams will be more giving if it means getting a superstar with more than a year left on his deal. Whether Westbrook is in Oklahoma City for six more months or six more years, Thunder fans have reason to be excited. Just remember the lessons learned from Durant’s departure. Don’t put away those cynical goggles you just acquired. Be skeptical of what’s presented to the public. What can be presented as a show of loyalty could just be a good business deal too good for all parties to pass up.”
Kevin Pelton of ESPN Insider: “As difficult as Durant’s departure was, the Thunder can rightly feel some optimism about their long-term future with Westbrook’s extension completed. Beyond Durant’s new superteam in Golden State, the rest of the West’s contenders probably will be in flux the next few seasons. The Spurs have already lost Tim Duncan to retirement, with Manu Ginobili likely to soon follow and Tony Parker also aging. The Los Angeles Clippers can see both Griffin and Chris Paul become free agents next summer, and even the up-and-coming Utah Jazz must re-sign Hayward. There’s an opening for Oklahoma City to emerge as the greatest threat to the Warriors in 2017-18, and while that requires everything to go right in free agency and the Thunder’s young talent to develop as anticipated, that scenario was only possible with a Westbrook extension.” Keep Reading…
UPDATE: According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Russell Westbrook has agreed to an extension with the Thunder. It’s effectively a 1+1 on top of his last remaining season under contract.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder are talking about a three-year extension on his current contract.
Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, the agent for Oklahoma City superstar Russell Westbrook, is engaged in serious talks with the Thunder on a contract renegotiation that could secure Westbrook through the 2018-19 season in Oklahoma City, league sources told The Vertical.
No deal has been finalized for the five-time All-Star guard, but there’s momentum toward a three-year, $85 million-plus maximum contract renegotiation agreement, league sources told The Vertical.
As I reported here last week, there has been a lot of momentum toward Westbrook taking the renegotiated extension. He’s pulled himself away the last few weeks to process the situation and make a decision as the Thunder prepped their offer to him.
The expectation, as I had been told, would be that Westbrook was in with the Thunder whether Durant re-signed or not, but Durant leaving would only embolden Westbrook to stay even more. And that appears to be the case.
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Anthony Slater is moving to the Bay: “In August of 2010, I left Northern California for Oklahoma. I’d never spent a day in the state. Researched very little about it. Didn’t know a single person who lived there. Six years later, to the exact month, I’m retracing those steps, leaving Oklahoma for a return to Northern California and an incredible career opportunity: I’ve accepted a job covering the Golden State Warriors for the San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group. I’m excited about what’s ahead – a new professional challenge, a chance to document the story of the sports world and a 45-minute, not 28-hour, drive to see family. But I’ll be forever grateful for what I left behind, a place that both became my second home and paved this awesome, unlikely dream path back to my original one.”
Klay Thompson says he’s not sacrificing: “I feel kind of disrespected that people keep using the term sacrifice to describe me and describe us. We all want to see each other do well. But I’m not sacrificing [expletive], because my game isn’t changing. I’m still going to try to get buckets, hit shots, come off screens. I want to win and have a fun time every game we play.” Keep Reading…