We all need to prepare ourselves to see the most ridiculous individual season since 1962, when Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double, because Russell Westbrook is remaining with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he’s going to be on a mission. On a team full of young and unproven players, there is no doubt in my mind that we’ll see Russell putting up more than 25 shots a game. Kevin Durant left him by his lonesome in OKC, and now he has free reign to do as he pleases.
Westbrook made the smart move financially; this extension will bump up his salary about $9M next season from $17.8M to $26.5M, and he will receive full Bird Right raises the next two seasons, coming out to approximately $28.5M & $30.6M. The last year of the deal is a player option, though, and this is especially important because Russell will have logged 10 years of experience at this point, and this will allow him to command 35% of the cap on his next deal, making Brodie a very rich man.
For the Thunder, this move is the best possible outcome after seeing their other superstar walk in free agency. If Westbrook was non-committal in his initial talks with the Thunder front office, there was a high probability that we would have seen him on another team before next season, because Sam Presti wasn’t going to let both of his stars walk, left with just his dick in his hand. But now OKC has a player they can continue to build around, and someone who can recruit for them in free agency in next year, and they need all the help they can get. The ideal plan for the Thunder seems to be to convince Blake Griffin to come back to his home state of Oklahoma and pair with Westbrook, which would make the Thunder a team to reckon with, yet again. It remains to be seen where Blake is leaning, but the Clippers have remained in a static situation for the past few years, and Doc Rivers’ track record as a GM has not been promising, so there is definitely opportunity for the Thunder to convince Blake.
This season, don’t expect the Thunder to be a real contender in the West; a lineup of Westbrook, Oladipo, Roberson/Singler, Ilyasova and Adams isn’t terrible, but leaves an enormous hole at the SF position. A team with Westbrook at the helm is bound to win 40-45 games, but by no means will they even touch the Warriors conglomerate of talent. Here’s the good news; this team is still very young, and can use this season to develop their inexperienced players to give them a better picture of what they’re working with come 2017 free agency. And if the Thunder can get Blake Griffin to join them, you can bet your ass Russell Westbrook will be coming back at Durant’s Warriors with a vengeance in 2018.
Until then, let’s just enjoy the Brodie show.