Kevin Durant on Saturday said Russell Westbrook deserves the maximum five-year contract that will pay him approximately $80 million. It's a contract that will keep Westbrook in a Thunder uniform through the 2016-17 season and teammates with Durant through at least 2015-16.
“I'm excited for Russell. He's worked so hard,” Durant said. “A lot of people wrote him off. When we drafted him, people kind of didn't know what was going on. We took him fourth. But he's matured into a top five point guard in this league; top 10 player in this league, I think. The stuff he's doing is kind of unreal. If you've looked at the games he's played, some of his best games are like video game numbers.”
Durant said he was unsure which direction the franchise was going when it took so long to hammer out the deal. The organization had until Wednesday to come to terms with Westbrook on a deal or the All-Star point guard would have become a restricted free agent this summer. Durant now calls the contract “a monkey off (Westbrook's) back.”
“I'm happy for him. He deserves every penny of it,” Durant said. “I'm sure he's going to continue to keep working hard to get better. I'm just happy that we're together for at least another five years. Hopefully we can do some good things in Oklahoma City. It's going to be fun.”
The Thunder will hold a 3 p.m. press conference Sunday to announce the deal. Westbrook, GM Sam Presti and coach Scott Brooks will all be on hand.
“I'm very happy,” Brooks said of Westbrook being locked in. “Russell has been a big part of what we do here, and going forward he's going to continue to be a big part of it. Knowing Russell, how good of a worker he is, how good of a kid he is; his parents did a good job of raising him, he's coachable, he loves getting better, he loves working every day. I'm happy for him. I can't wait to keep getting him better.”
DURANT NOTCHES SEASON-HIGH REBOUNDS
After watching Washington bully his team on the boards, Durant decided to do something to help out more against New Jersey.
He ended up pulling down a season-high 15 rebounds.
“We gave up too many last game against Washington, so I just wanted to help the bigs out and grab as many as I could,” Durant said. “Luckily, a few fell in my hands so I was able to get a lot tonight.”