The Thunder and Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, the agent for Russell Westbrook, are engaged in talks regarding a renegotiation and extension of the guard’s current deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports. The talks are centering around an arrangement that would lock up Westbrook through the 2018/19 campaign, Wojnarowski adds. The Vertical’s Bobby Marks had recently noted the possibility that the All-Star and OKC could work out a short-term extension.
No deal has been finalized, notes Wojnarowski, but the momentum is increasing toward the two sides coming to terms on a three-year, $85MM+ arrangement. The proposed contract would include a player option on the third year, which would allow Westbrook to hit unrestricted free agency during the summer of 2018, the scribe relays. The structure of a proposed deal would up Westbrook’s salary for 2016/17 from $17,769,374 to a $26.5MM max salary, per the article. Westbrook would then earn $28.5MM in 2017/18 and $30.6MM in the final season, provided he didn’t opt out.
Westbrook’s scoring average may have dipped a bit in 2015/16, averaging 23.5 per outing after his league-leading 28.1 PPG in 2014/15, but he averaged career highs in both rebounds (7.8) and assists (10.4). It should be noted that Westbrook’s decrease in scoring output was due to Kevin Durant making his return after missing the bulk of the previous season, not due to a decline in performance. Without Durant as a teammate, Westbrook will be a favorite to snag the MVP award, and will be looked upon to carry the franchise in its first campaign without the Slim Reaper.
The Thunder desperately need to lock up Westbrook, especially after losing Durant to the Warriors via free agency this summer. If no extension can be agreed upon, the 27-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, one who will be in extremely high demand around the league. Securing Westbrook will also greatly aid OKC in free agency next summer, since the team can use the guard’s continued presence as a major selling point to prospective free agent targets.