The two sides have agreed on a new three-year contract worth $85.7 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the terms. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the team had not announced the deal. A news conference on a “major announcement” was scheduled for late Thursday afternoon.
The 27-year-old Westbrook is one of the top stars in the NBA and piled up 18 triple-doubles last season, tying Magic Johnson for the most in the last 30 years. The five-time All-Star averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 10.4 assists last season as the Thunder reached the Western Conference finals, in which they lost in seven games to the Golden State Warriors after jumping to a 3-1 series lead.
For his entire career, Westbrook had been paired with a fellow superstar in Durant and together they turned Oklahoma City into a perennial NBA title contender. The Thunder have reached the conference finals in four of the past six seasons, but advanced to the NBA Finals only once, falling to the Miami Heat in 2012.
Durant became a free agent at season’s end and announced on July 4 that he would sign with Golden State instead of staying with the Thunder and Westbrook.
Westbrook’s contract had been set to expire after next season, and after Durant’s departure – which was unexpected by Thunder fans – rumors swirled about Westbrook’s future. Would he sign a contract extension with the only franchise he’s ever known, would he play out the season awaiting a shot at his own unrestricted free agency or would the Thunder trade their last remaining superstar, hoping to get pieces to rebuild?
The latter question still isn’t fully answered – if things go poorly for Oklahoma City during the upcoming season, the length of Westbrook’s new contract would seem to make him a more valuable trade piece – but for now, both he and Thunder seem to be going all-in.
Even without Durant, the Thunder is hardly bereft of talent to go with Westbrook. Steven Adams showed during the playoffs that he rapidly is moving up the ranks of NBA centers, and another post player, Enes Kanter, finished third in voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season.
A draft-night deal with the Orlando Magic, in which the Thunder lost Serge Ibaka, brought in sharpshooting guard Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis – who the Magic selected with the 11th pick – along with forward Ersan Ilyasova. Point guard Cameron Payne, a 2015 lottery pick entering his second season, was one of the top players in the NBA Summer League in Orlando this year.
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.