Earlier this week, it was announced that Russell Westbrook would be signing a contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is great move for basketball fans, but it might not be the best move for him personally.
It’s pretty obvious that this move was made to make Kevin Durant look like an ever bigger ass than he already was after he left OKC one month ago. Russell Westbrook is one of the most motivated players in the NBA today. And by that I mean he’ll use any little act of disrespect to elevate his game. Westbrook is one of the best players in the game and wants to prove to people that he can win alone and stay loyal, unlike Durant who joined a super team and left a good situation in Oklahoma City.
The new extension, worth 85 million over three years, will add a new ripple to the rivalry between KD and Russ. It’s well known that they had their rifts while teammates and Westbrook may have been one of the major reasons Durant left. Westbrook wants to show that he was the true leader of the Thunder, which he was, to everyone.
This undertone will make the Warriors vs. Thunder match ups must watch TV, no matter how much better Golden State will be. Which is huge, because the regular season really doesn’t matter in basketball, considering there are only three teams that can really be considered favorites to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy .
Unfortunately for Westbrook, the Thunder aren’t in that conversation anymore.
With the loss of Durant, the Thunder go from a championship contender to just a playoff contender. There ‘s no doubting this roster still has talent, with Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter and Andre Roberson likely being the major contributors next season. However, the NBA is a star league and it takes more than one of them to win a championship (@Celtics). Due to Durant’s departure, the Thunder have some cap space going into next offseason once the salary cap expands again.
A potential fit for the Thunder next offseason could be Blake Griffin. He went to school at Oklahoma and with the Clippers being in an awkward situation, he could welcome a return back to his home state. Even with the potential addition of Griffin, OKC likely would not be able to handle Golden State or even San Antonio in a seven game series.
It’s clear that Westbrook made some sacrifices when signing this deal. He likely won’t be able to win a ring in Oklahoma City, and that might be because nobody wants to play with him, thus no star will join him. He’s going to do it that hard way all while being loyal to the team that drafted him. He’ll become more popular than KD ever was, strictly because he stayed while Durant left. Westbrook sacrificed championships for MVP’s and personal accolades, and it would shock me if he didn’t take home the MVP while leading OKC to the playoffs.
Westbrook bit the bullet and put his personal pride above winning. Something that the NBA as a whole may be thankful for, but it could be one of the biggest regrets of Russell Westbrook’s career if it doesn’t work out in the end.
Cover Photo via FullCourtPress