Russell Westbrook's contract extension will keep Thunder among NBA elite

Wednesday was a banner day in Boomtown, when Russell Westbrook signed a five-year contract extension that binds him to the Thunder until the summer of 2017
by Berry Tramel Published: January 19, 2012

Westbrook also could have demanded an opt-out clause in his contract, the chance to shorten it to three years, which is what LeBron James did in Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony did in Denver and Chris Paul did in New Orleans.

No opt-out for Westbrook. The full five years give the Thunder a much-bigger window.

Westbrook appeared to make a commitment to winning. To the Thunder and to OKC, yes. But to winning. Not to glamour of a market or status as an Alpha dog.

Westbrook chose that window of opportunity. In spring 2016, Durant and Westbrook will each be 27. Still in their prime.

“When Russell showed up, he and Kevin were part of the first (Thunder) roster that ever played in Oklahoma City,” said general manager Sam Presti. “When I say these guys have built our culture, established the standards that are in place, I mean that.

“Their work ethic, their approach, has worked for us. They have some ownership in it.”

The Selfish Westbrook Theory took a major hit with this contract. He could have gone somewhere and been the main man. Instead, he willingly signed on to stick with Butch Cassidy, and what a pair Durant and Westbrook make. Westbrook-to-Durant led all NBA tandems in assists-on-field goals.

Durant and Westbrook just keep getting better and better. Presti has done what great general managers do. He isn't paying big bucks for what these guys have done; he's paying big bucks for what they will do.

More plays like Wednesday night in Washington. Westbrook dribbled past halfcourt, with his Thunder teammates on their horse, and whipped a pass to Durant.

Not just a pass. A left-handed pass. A left-handed bounce pass. A left-handed bounce pass that must have traveled 22 feet.

Durant speared the ball on the dead run just past a Wizard or two, then slammed it home. Maybe my favorite play in four Thunder seasons. A supposedly shoot-first point guard making a jaw-dropping pass through a sliver of a window.

Nothing at all like the massive window that now awaits the Thunder. Five prime seasons to bring a parade to the Bricktown Canal.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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