Order up a slice of Brussel Westbrook in celebration: Russell Westbrook today signed a contract to continue playing for the OKC Thunder for the next three seasons.
Thursday afternoon, Westbrook appeared with Thunder management for a press conference surrounding his decision to stick with the team. Hundreds of Thunder fans welcomed him to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the event.
Westbrook thanked the organization during the news event and expressed his gratitude for the city and the fans.
“Obviously, me being able to come back here is a true blessing. There is no place else I’d rather be than Oklahoma City,” he said to applause. “You guys have basically raised me (…) through the good and the bad, you guys have supported me.
“There’s no need to wait if you know (this is) where you want to be.”
He was joined at the press conference by Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
“Obviously, it’s an incredible opportunity to have a player like Russell Westbrook in your organization, not only as a player (…) but as a human being,” Presti said.
With that, Thunder fans in Oklahoma City and beyond can collectively breathe a sigh of relief, as speculation about a potential Westbrook departure reached critical mass after Kevin Durant signed a two-year, $54.3 million contract in early July to play for the Golden State Warriors.
Rumblings began Wednesday night
Around 9 p.m. Wednesday, the online rumor mill began churning to the effect that Westbrook would be returning to OKC. Shortly after midnight, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the five-time All-Star and two-time All-Star Game MVP had agreed to an $85 million-plus maximum contract renegotiation.
According to that report:
In the structure of the renegotiation, Westbrook’s salary in 2016-17 increases from $17.8 million to a $26.5 million max salary, $28.5 million in 2017-18, and includes a player option for $30.6 million in the third year.
It also appears two seasons with Westbrook on the Thunder roster will be guaranteed, but a third will remain to be determined. From The Vertical’s report:
Westbrook will be under contract for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons and will hold a player option for the 2018-19 season, league sources said.
In the most likely scenario, Westbrook will become an unrestricted free agent in 2018 again.
As reported on ESPN.com, the deal would give him the third-highest average annual value in the NBA.
Thursday morning, the California native posted a picture worth a thousand words for hopeful fans following the story:
— Russell Westbrook (@russwest44) August 4, 2016
The City of OKC’s official Twitter account responded in kind:
— City of OKC (@cityofokc) August 4, 2016
Later on Thursday, OKC Mayor Mick Cornett formally declared it Russell Westbrook Day:
— Mick Cornett (@MickCornett) August 4, 2016
Of course, local news personalities were all chiming in, but in terms of timeliness, humor and overall technical Twitter proficiency, NonDoc tips its hat to News 9’s Justin Dougherty:
— Justin Dougherty (@DoughertyJC) August 4, 2016