July 19, 2017
There has already been speculation that Durant leaving could make Westbrook want to stay in OKC
The Oklahoma City Thunder need to figure out if Russell Westbrook plans to stay with the team beyond this season. Losing both Westbrook and Durant in the span of a year would be devastating for the franchise, but is there really anything they can do at the moment?
Westbrook is set to become a free agent next summer, when the salary cap is scheduled to increase significantly again. He’d be silly to sign an extension now even if he planned to stay in OKC. The same is true of any team that traded for him. Westbrook isn’t going to leave money on the table, but no team will want to give up assets for a one-year rental. The most he can offer is a verbal guarantee that he will re-sign when he hits free agency.
But back to to the Thunder. There has already been speculation that Durant leaving could make Westbrook want to stay in OKC. Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman heard something similar from a source.
Westbrook has given the Thunder no indication that he currently wants out. To the contrary, one source described him as ticked off about the Kevin Durant departure, determined for this new challenge and eager for the season to start: “He’s ready.”
The scary thing for the Thunder is that the best way for Westbrook to put himself in an ideal situation is to be as selfish as possible. Slater compares the situation to when Carmelo Anthony forced his way to the New York Knicks several years ago. Anthony ultimately got what he wanted, but the Knicks had to give up important pieces to acquire him. Had he waited a few more months, he could have just signed with New York as a free agent. That would have been much better for his current team.
With that in mind, Westbrook could tell the Thunder he has no intention of leaving just so they don’t trade him. He could then ride it out for another season in OKC as the only star in town and then sign elsewhere.
Westbrook may have hinted at his future plans when he had this to say to some campers at his basketball camp, but no one knows for sure what is going on inside his head. Good luck to the Thunder trying to figure that out with the future of their franchise depending on it.
Source: Larry Brown Sports