Westbrook signs extension with Thunder
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP):
Russell Westbrook is staying with the Thunder.
The superstar point guard and reigning NBA MVP has signed a contract extension to remain in Oklahoma City, the team announced yesterday. ESPN first reported the agreement and said it would be for five years and worth US$205 million.
Westbrook made an Instagram post yesterday afternoon, a photo of him yelling at Chesapeake Energy Arena with his arms raised in the air. His words of choice to go with the photo are the words he lives by and the name of his charitable foundation: "WHY NOT??"
Westbrook said this week that Oklahoma City is where he wanted to be. He said he was thrilled with the offseason additions of four-time All-Star Paul George and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Both have player options on their deals after this season.
"I love being here," he said. "I'm excited about the season. Obviously, with a lot of new changes, and I'm excited."
Thunder owner Clay Bennett values Westbrook's importance to Oklahoma City on and off the court.
"We recognise and deeply appreciate Russell's rare and unique abilities as he leads the Oklahoma City Thunder, but also understand his presence and impact on our community will be felt for decades to come," Bennett said. "On behalf of the entire Thunder organisation, our ownership group and all of Oklahoma, I want to express my deepest appreciation to Russell, and I know that the very best days for the Thunder are yet to come."
Westbrook averaged a triple-double last season and was the league scoring champion. He averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists and broke Oscar Robertson's single-season record for triple-doubles with 42.
His success increased anxiety for Thunder fans who feared he might leave, as Kevin Durant did during the summer of 2016 when he chose to join the Golden State Warriors. Westbrook signed the extension on Durant's 29th birthday.
Westbrook said he hadn't signed because of other obligations.
"I've been at home," he said. "I've been travelling. Just trying to get my family together, honestly. You know, having a new son can be a little difficult, you know what I mean? I've been trying to help my wife, help my family and enjoying and embracing that moment as much as I can because I know during the season, I'm going to be travelling and moving around."