Oklahoma City’s favorite son is staying home. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the Thunder on Friday after a long, anticipation-filled summer of waiting.
The deal, which was signed using the new designated player veteran extension, is the richest in NBA history. It kicks in after the upcoming 2017-18 season and guarantees Westbrook an estimated $233 million total and OKC fans their point guard for the next six seasons.
It was unclear why Westbrook waited until late September to sign the extension, as the deal has reportedly been on the table since the first of July. When asked about the delay during media day earlier this week, Westbrook said he was busy.
“Man it’s been a long, long summer,” Westbrook said. “I had a baby. So I’ve been working on a little fatherhood. But like I said before, man, this is the place I want to be. I love being here. I'm excited about the season.”
And who wouldn’t be excited? After having to do it all last season, to the point where he averaged a triple-double, Westbrook (who, as others have rushed to point out, signed his new deal on Kevin Durant’s birthday) will soon be joined by Paul George and Carmelo Anthony on the court. The Thunder are once again equipped to pull off a postseason run in the Western Conference, just one year after Durant’s departure.
It was KD leaving that made Westbrook such an emblem of loyalty for OKC fans; the point guard signed a contract extension less than a month after Durant joined the Warriors. “I had the opportunity to be loyal to you guys,” Westbrook said then, in August 2016, “That’s the no. 1 option. Loyalty is something I stand by.”
The holdup on his signing a contract extension had some questioning those remarks this summer. Both George and Anthony have player options and can choose to leave in 2018. The possibility of being alone again, with no star teammates and no bench, seemed it might have been enough to give Westbrook pause.
But general manager Sam Presti did right by Westbrook this offseason, flipping Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, and a 2018 second-round pick into George and Anthony, and essentially giving the Thunder another chance to contend. And Westbrook (who probably would have signed anyway) made good on his word, fashionably late.