The Oklahoma City Thunder will prioritize giving Russell Westbrook a new long-term contract extension this summer. However, Westbrook remains questionable to sign the extension which could force the Thunder to explore other options, including trading him for young assets and draft picks.
The Thunder somewhat survived their first season without Kevin Durant. As most people expected, Westbrook turned into an MVP-caliber player and made numerous achievements in the 2016-17 NBA season. He joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double.
In 81 games he played this season, Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Last Thursday, he was also named to the All-NBA First Team. He’s currently in a position to sign a designated veteran player extension which will be the Thunder’s No. 1 priority this summer.
NBA Rumors: Russell Westbrook trade possible
However, Westbrook isn’t yet thinking about signing the contract extension. According to Danny Leroux of Sports Illustrated, the Thunder will be forced to trade Westbrook if he will not sign another extension this summer.
“Since the Designated Veteran extension would entitle Westbrook to his maximum allowable salary for the maximum allowable duration, refusing to sign that deal would be a major red flag for the organization considering he would be a free agent after the upcoming season. As crazy as it sounds, Oklahoma City may have to consider trading the reigning MVP this summer since they cannot risk losing another superstar without receiving compensation,” Leroux said.
Last summer, he signed a three-year extension worth $80 million that includes a player option in 2018. The Thunder will be dumb to let go another superstar without getting anything in return. If they fail to reach an agreement with Westbrook this summer, it will be best for them to trade him and undergo a full-scale rebuild.
Convincing Russell Westbrook to stay
Like other superstars, Westbrook prefers to stay in a team who can contend for the title next season. The Thunder are in a strong Western Conference where playoff teams like the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers have more than one superstar on their team. The outcome of the 2016-17 NBA season showed the Thunder’s current roster is not enough to dominate the West.
To convince Westbrook to stay, the Thunder should first prioritize upgrading their roster this summer. They obviously need to add another prolific scorer who can play alongside Westbrook or fill his absence when he needs to rest. The 2017 NBA free agency will feature several NBA superstars. These include Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward who could be a perfect tandem for Westbrook.
The Thunder should also look for available superstars on the trade market like Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George. If Westbrook sees improvement, there is a higher possibility that he’ll sign the supermax extension this summer.
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