Oklahoma City Thunder believe that signing Blake Griffin in free agency next year would significantly improve their chances of retaining superstar guard Russell Westbrook, per a source close to the team.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Thunder front office believes they have a realistic shot at landing Griffin, a native of Oklahoma City, in free agency next year.
Clippers set to be broken up?
The Los Angeles Clippers could see a major shake-up next year with Griffin, Chris Paul and JJ Redick all due to become unrestricted free agents. At this stage, not many insiders believe that Clippers will be able to retain their core, unless they win the championship next year.
While recent reports have suggested that Westbrook will wait until next summer to either sign an extension with Thunder or test free agency, Wojnarowski reckons that Thunder could convince the all-star point guard to commit earlier than expected by selling the idea of playing with Griffin.
“For Westbrook, the most likely scenario for a renegotiation would be to use the Thunder’s cap space to guarantee he will stay under contract with the Thunder through the 2017-18 season.
“This would give Oklahoma City the chance to recruit one of its top targets – 2017 free agent and Oklahoma native Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers – to partner with Westbrook, league sources said,” Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday.
Griffin was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He also played collegiate basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Earlier this month, Houston Rockets signed James Harden to an extension to avoid any free agency drama in the near future. Harden has been secured as a Rocket until the end of the 2019-20 season. Thunder GM Sam Presti is trying to do something similar but it would make financial sense for Westbrook to wait until next summer since the salary cap rises to approximately $102 million.
Russell Westbrook in touch with Presti…
According to Wojnarowski, Westbrook and the OKC front office have been in touch since Kevin Durant’s exit. “Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, have been in regular contact with Thunder general manager Sam Presti since Kevin Durant’s departure on July 4, but Westbrook has yet to make a commitment to renegotiate his contract and forgo free agency in 2017, league sources said.”
Many insiders believe that Thunder, with their young squad, presents Russell Westbrook the best opportunity to be the alpha male of the team and remain a top tier team in the western conference. Westbrook could still leave to Los Angeles or New York to pursue other opportunities, but if he makes a basketball-based decision, Thunder still remain he favorites to retain him next year.