Sam Presti and lieutenant Troy Weaver knocked on Kevin Durant's door at 11:01 p.m. June 30, 2010. They had a deal done by 11:02.
Now, the next Thunder superstar is up for a contract extension, and there will be no doorstep deal for Russell Westbrook.
Don't blame Presti and don't blame Westbrook. Blame circumstances. The NBA lockout, ended by a sudden labor agreement over Thanksgiving weekend, has created a shotgun start to not just training camp or the season, but contract negotiations.
What usually is accomplished gradually over months now is being shoe-horned into a couple of weeks. The season starts in 11 days, and the Hornets, for example, have seven ballplayers on their roster, not counting training-camp invites.
The Thunder wants to sign Westbrook to a deal, and Westbrook has indicated he wants to sign a deal. But not even the Thunder's nerdy brain trust has grasped all the intricacies of the new labor agreement.
If we know anything by now, it's that Presti doesn't do anything without knowing all the angles. He and his staff must learn all the nuances of the new salary cap and luxury taxes — a master's degree in quantitative analysis is recommended — because every penny the Thunder spends is deeply considered.
So the Westbrook extension very likely will spill over into the regular season. Will that create tension?
Doesn't have to. This isn't New Orleans or Orlando.
Chris Paul wants out of New Orleans, and the Hornet season is a mess. Dwight Howard appears headed out of Orlando, come trade or free agency, so the Magic doesn't know if it will tip off Christmas night with Superman or Daniel Orton in the jump circle.
Westbrook has made no demands. No threats. No vow of anything other than doing his best to win.
“It's not a distraction at all,” Westbrook said Tuesday during Thunder Media Day. “I'm looking forward to this year and big things out of my teammates.
“I'm going to let my agent and Sam discuss those things.”
It would be nice and tidy if the Thunder could tie up Westbrook for the next five years. Secure the services of two all-stars for the next half decade? The Thunder would have their cornerstones.
Durant said he's not recruiting Westbrook, primarily because “he's already on our team.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.