By Randy Renner, Senior Writer
Superstar Kevin Durant left the Thunder for Golden State at the beginning of last month, now at the beginning of this month superstar Russell Westbrook appears close to renewing his commitment to the Thunder.
Yahoo Sports NBA guru Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday night the Thunder and Westbrook’s agent Thad Foucher are moving towards an agreement on a renegotiated extension of Westbrook’s current contract.
Wojnarowski reports the deal isn’t done but “there’s momentum toward a 3-year, $85 million agreement.” That third year would include a player option so Westbrook could become a free agent in the summer of 2018 when he would be eligible for a supermax contract (35 percent of the salary cap).
Under this proposal Westbrook’s salary for this coming season would jump by almost $9 million to $26.5 million. He is currently slated to make just under $17.8 million. Wojnarowski is reporting Westbrook would be given 7.5 percent pay raises the next two seasons to $28.5 million in 2017-18 and $30.5 million if he picks up the player option for 2018-19.
Not to throw cold water on all the excitement Thunder fans would be feeling if Westbrook and the Thunder can sign off on this, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the superstar point guard will be staying.
This deal makes financial sense for Westbrook and if it turns out things go badly this season or if he’s not totally committed to staying long term the new deal would make a trade more attractive for other teams since they wouldn’t have to worry about Westbrook bolting after just one season.
If the deal gets done the final numbers as to what the raises are for the second and third seasons could provide a clue. If they are the full 7.5 percent as Wojnarowski is reporting the Thunder would be prohibited from trading Westbrook for at least six months after the deal is signed. If the raises are the more standard 4.5 percent he could be traded the same day he signs the paperwork.
That’s a worry for another day though.