It’s been a little over a year since Kevin Durant, then a star for the Oklahoma City Thunder, decided to change teams, and join the Golden State Warriors. KD’s decision made a lot of angry Thunder fans fall even more in love with Russell Westbrook, as they labeled him the face of loyalty to the franchise.
This summer, however, things were briefly in doubt. Westbrook, the reigning MVP, had one year on his contract, and had yet to sign the max extension that had been on the table for months. After the Thunder made two huge offseason trades, adding Carmelo Anthony and Paul George to the mix, that doubt is gone.
Russell Westbrook has agreed to a five-year, $205M contract extension with OKC, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 29, 2017
The extension tacks onto the final year of his old deal, meaning his current contract is now for six years and $233 million, the largest deal in NBA history. Barring a trade, Westbrook will be with the Thunder through 2023, his first 15 years in the league.
The deal has huge ramifications for the league, and for the Warriors, as the Thunder seek to join the Western Conference elite. Not only does it ensure that Oklahoma City has a superstar moving forward, but it increases the odds of George re-signing after this year. Anthony, who has a player option after this season, will presumably be more likely to opt-in and remain with the team.
It also means that Durant will remain public enemy number one in Oklahoma City for a long time. Had Westbrook left after Durant did, he may have taken that title; instead, Durant will be hated by Thunder fans for many years to come. And speaking of grudges, is it a coincidence that Westbrook signed the extension on Durant’s birthday?
It’s also safe to say that while KD may have had problems with the Thunder organization and Billy Donovan, Westbrook does not. And we’re going to see some glorious grudge matches in the coming years.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Durant has left the door open to an Oklahoma City return later in his career. With Westbrook being locked up long term, the former superstar duo could get the band together for the twilight years of their careers.