Westbrook has given the Thunder no indication that he currently wants out. To the contrary, one source described him as ticked off about the Kevin Durant departure, determined for this new challenge and eager for the season to start: “He’s ready.”
It would be crippling for the Thunder to lose two Hall of Fame level talents over two consecutive summers and receive nothing in return. So with that threat in mind, OKC is now open to trading Westbrook, a source told me late Sunday, but they’re still trying to get him to commit long-term. “OKC is still trying to get Russell Westbrook to sign a contract extension,” the source explained, “which he won’t do because extensions at this time aren’t in a player’s best interest anymore. He won’t do it.”
“No team is going to pay a hefty price without getting a commitment from Westbrook,” the source said. “Someone may pay a cheaper price without a commitment, but OKC probably doesn’t do a deal like that.”
OKC could take this thing into the season and see how things look. The Thunder still has an athletic young core that fits around Westbrook nicely. He’s already been in communication with Victor Oladipo, his new backcourt partner. He’s long lauded the toughness and potential of Steven Adams. And there was no louder a public advocate for Enes Kanter’s Sixth Man campaign last season than Westbrook — typically a terrible quote, but not if you ask him about either of his young bigs.
“There’s no commitment from Kevin,” Welts said. “He signed a one-year contract with a player option. So I think the hope and expectation is there’s a business reason for doing that more than there is a basketball reason for doing that. We’ve got to be a place that is as good as he thought it was when he selected the Warriors over the other options that he had. I think we’re going through a really interesting time in our league. We’re all trying to figure out what the new world is going to look like.”