Thunder: No new contract for Westbrook, no worries either

COMMENTARY — Expect the Oklahoma City Thunder to re-sign Russell Westbrook. Just don't expect it to come easily as Kevin Durant's contract extension.
by Berry Tramel Modified: December 14, 2011 at 12:15 am •  Published: December 13, 2011

But Durant did say that Westbrook “wants to stay here. That's the vibe I'm getting. I think Russell believes in the team first and he wants to be in Oklahoma City.”

There is plenty of reason to think Westbrook will stay.

First, most of the superstar discontent comes from older players. In 2006, 21-year-old LeBron James signed a contract extension with Cleveland and 22-year-old Carmelo Anthony did the same with Denver. Howard, at 21, re-upped with Orlando in 2007. Paul, at 23, re-signed with New Orleans in 2008.

All were charming young superstars. Not the edgy, entitled divas they seem to be today.

If there's any itch in the 23-year-old Westbrook, he's hidden it well.

Second, Westbrook has a couple of up-close examples from which to learn. The Durant signing of summer 2010 has gone great for both KD and the Thunder. Nothing but good has come of it.

But Jeff Green, a 2 1/2-year teammate of Durant and Westbrook, went the other direction. Green, admittedly no superstar, got a solid offer from the Thunder, something approaching the range of what Kendrick Perkins eventually signed for, $7-8 million a year.

Green passed, eventually was traded to the Celtics, settled last week on a one-year contract for $5.6 million and next summer faces free agency after probably playing only about 23 minutes a game.

So a maximum-salary contract, or something very close to it, with a title contender in an organization you know well and apparently like, should be enough to sway Westbrook to commit.

“We love Russell,” said coach Scotty Brooks. “We love what he's about. Everyone loves his commitment to our team, to the city, to his teammates.”

Expect Westbrook to remain a Boomer. Just know that it's not going to come as easy as the deal on Durant's doorstep.

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.


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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