OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook signing proves Thunder owners are willing to spend

LUXURY TAX BOUND? — With Durant and Westbrook signed, the Thunder could be a luxury tax payer if it plans to keep James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 22, 2012

A major part of the organization's vision has been to identify and insert certain types of player. The front office has aimed to bring in players who can grow together, players who are hard workers and have high character and a commitment to winning and community. That's precisely what the current core embodies, and the brain trust appears ready to ensure it remains intact.

Though he declined to take credit for it, Westbrook had a direct hand in helping the franchise complete that objective. The explosive All-Star could have held out for a larger contract. Had he been selected to a second All-NBA Team this season, he could have demanded the “super max” contract that pays players whose performance exceed their rookie scale contracts 30 percent of the salary cap. Instead, Westbrook signed now and showed he is content with the regular maximum of 25 percent of the salary cap, roughly $80 million over five seasons.

To average Americans, that's no big sacrifice. To pro ballplayers, it's a difference of about $15 million. And to the Thunder, it could be the difference of whether Harden or Ibaka, or both, stay or go.

“That wasn't my objective,” Westbrook said. “My objective was to find a spot where I'm happy and where I have an opportunity to win championships.”

What about Ibaka and Harden?

“Sam and them guys will find a way to figure things out,” Westbrook said. “I'm not sure how that's going to work. But I know now we have a great team and hopefully we can keep everybody together.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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