The Oklahoma City Thunder are having one hell of an offseason.
First they landed Paul George from the Indiana Pacers for 30 to 50 cents on the dollar. Since then, they’ve added Patrick Patterson to one of the best deals in the league, re-signed Andre Roberson to a team-friendly three-year, $30 million deal and (marginally) upgraded the backup point guard position by acquiring Raymond Felton at the veteran’s minimum.
If all goes according to plan, the Thunder will contend for a top-four playoff seed in the brutally built Western Conference. But is that enough, right now, for reigning MVP Russell Westbrook to sign an extension before the season starts?
General manager Sam Presti and friends sure hope so, per ESPN.com’s Royce Young:
Sam Presti on possible Westbrook extension: "I wouldn't really say that one's a negotiation." Team is effectively just waiting on an answer.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 11, 2017
It’s crass to assert that it doesn’t matter what Westbrook does here. But the Thunder will be fine if he elects to let his contract situation ride into next summer, when he, like George, is ticketed for free agency.
Worst-case scenario, the Thunder lose both and begin rebuilding. That kind of stinks. But they’ll also start their reset free from Victor Oladipo’s deal and with Enes Kanter on an expiring pact. There are worse places to be.
Should Westbrook put pen to paper this summer, the Thunder are sitting pretty. His presence makes it more likely George sticks around. If George still leaves, oh well. They won’t have Oladipo’s deal bogging down future spending, and they’ll still employ a top-10 player and bona fide superstar building block.
Yes, it’s better for the Thunder if Westbrook signs an extension now. But it’s not the end of the world for them if he waits—which, frankly, says a lot about their ability to rebound, knowing they lost Kevin Durant for nothing barely one year ago.