Russell Westbrook, on the final year of his contract, is reportedly keen to remain with Oklahoma City Thunder for another season. However, his uncertain future with the franchise could propel Thunder GM Sam Presti to act swiftly and possibly trade Westbrook, per several sources.
According to ESPN’s Royce Young, several teams have inquired with Thunder about the possibility of trading Westbrook, especially in the aftermath of Kevin Durant’s departure to Oakland. However, those teams were consistently told that the superstar point guard is not available.
Russell Westbrook not seeking trade…
Westbrook, too, is not interested in a trade and would like to lead a young Thunder team bolstered by the additions of Victor Oladipo, Alex Abrines and Domantas Sabonis. However, does Westbrook plan to sign an extension next summer? That’s the million-dollar question that nobody, not even Westbrook, has an answer to.
On Monday, Young revealed Westbrook’s current though-process. “According to sources with knowledge of the situation, he doesn’t want to be traded. He wants to play next season with the Thunder. It’s the year after that which is in question.
“There’s a growing belief Westbrook will think heavily about an extension but will first weigh every angle before doing it. And with Waiters agreeing to terms with the Miami Heat, the Thunder can now officially present that extension to Westbrook,” added Young.
The Thunder are in a precarious position since they stand to lose Westbrook for practically nothing next offseason. They never considered trading Kevin Durant because most league insiders believed that the former MVP would re-sign with them this summer. However, Thunder cannot afford losing both Durant and Westbrook without securing any assets. That would be catastrophic.
Thunder need to act fast…
According to Fox Sports’ Dieter Kurtenbach, the Thunder are under immense pressure to deal Westbrook. “In or out — the Thunder need make it clear to Westbrook: We’re not going to enter the season in limbo,” wrote Kurtenbach, suggesting that the fate of Thunder rests on Westbrook’s hands, before highlighting the importance of making a decision this summer rather than the next.
In 2013, Thunder were forced to trade James Harden because they were unwilling to offer a max contract to the shooting guard. Needless to say, the decision continues to haunt him as Harden went on to become one of the top-5 players in the league over the last few seasons.
After trading away Serge Ibaka, too, the Thunder have lost most of the crucial pieces that made them a perennial contender since moving from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Westbrook is the last man standing. “If there’s any chance that Westbrook isn’t going to re-sign with the Thunder, then Oklahoma City needs to seize control of their destiny by moving him as soon as possible,” added Kurtenbach.
Russell Westbrook finished third in the MVP voting last season with an outstanding tally of 23.5 points, 10.4 assists and 7.8 rebounds.