Sam Presti had checked every major box in the offseason, except for the biggest one — securing the services of Russell Westbrook past next season. Now, his summer of gold is complete with the announcement of Russell Westbrook inking a five year deal with the team:
Russell Westbrook has agreed to a five-year, $205M contract extension with OKC, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 29, 2017
When Kevin Durant decided to turn heel and flee the Plains for the Bay, the Thunder organization (and its fans) were at the lowest point in the relatively young franchise’s history.
One month later, Westbrook assuaged fears and lifted spirits by signing a 1+1 extension that would keep him in OKC for the near future, but leave his options open should Sam Presti fail to surround him with a winning, competitive team. Then, he lived out what was a throwaway joke, a meme to occupy our offseason time: he averaged a triple-double. And he won the MVP.
Multiple thumpings by the Golden State Warriors and a hasty first-round exit thanks to James Harden and co. grounded Thunder fans. The future was cast in doubt yet again. There was significant doubt that Presti had the assets (or the gumption, in the opinion of some) to make OKC more competitive than it was last season.
Then he went out and nabbed two-way superstar Paul George. He didn’t stop there, though: he patched holes in the roster that make the Thunder unquestionably better, and he re-signed Andre Roberson at a value that turned the heads of many, including myself. He brought in savvy veterans like Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton.
And then, out of nowhere, Presti made his best pitch yet: trading for Carmelo Anthony.
But none of that would matter if Russ was planning his out from Oklahoma City. The Thunder will skip the massive anxiety of deciding whether to deal a superstar for nickels on the dollar versus the possibility of him leaving and being left with nothing, as was the case with Durant. If Westbrook were to leave, it’s easy to imagine Anthony, George, and even Sam Presti himself fleeing.
But now, the path forward is set. And what a great pitch to keep George and Anthony around.