To the dismay of Lakers fans, Russell Westbrook has agreed to a new $85 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. After losing Kevin Durant to the Warriors, the Thunder have reassured fans who thought a rebuilding process was near. The new contract for Westbrook extends to 2018 with a player option for the 2018-2019 season, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
Westbrook is expected to host a press conference Thursday.
In showing a bit of loyalty, the Thunder opened up their pockets by increasing his new contract. Westbrook was scheduled to earn $17.8 million this year, but after the bump he will earn the maximum $26.5 million. That number will increase to $28.5 million in 2017-18 and $30.6 million if he agrees to the player option in 2018-2019.
The extra two years will give the Thunder more time to take the next step in their future. Having sent away veteran Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis, the Thunder have already started the process of building a young core once again.
While he will be a Thunder for the next few years, there will always be talks of him leaving elsewhere afterwards. OKC is not on the same level of free-agency attractiveness as other major cities, and this may hurt the Thunder in luring future free agents.
The team hopes that the potential financial benefits will keep Westbrook at home during the rebuild. Both parties hope that they will not waste a very exciting prime in Westbrook. He will most likely have an MVP type season once again as he will carry the load for his team in the post-Durant era.