The long-standing national nightmare is finally over. On of all days to sign his extension, Russell Westbrook chose to sign his 5-year Designated Veteran Player Extension (DPE) on Kevin Durant’s birthday. Some may call that petty. I call it military grade psy-ops genius. Including this season’s salary, Westbrook essentially signed a 6-year, $233 million deal. This deal goes through the 2022-23 season.
Westbrook was eligible to sign the deal on July 1st, but instead chose to wait because of scheduling conflicts. Westbrook has been on a bit of a world tour this summer, going from MVP recipient to fashion icon. During media day, Westbrook was asked why he hadn’t signed the deal up to that point. “Man, it’s been a long, long summer. Had a baby, so I’ve been working on a little fatherhood. But like I said before, man. This is the place I want to be.”
As the summer progressed, there were questions whether Westbrook was going to sign the extension. Even with the acquisition of Paul George, many thought George’s cloudy future could have been giving Westbrook pause in signing such a long extension. But the mood during media day felt like this union, to include Carmelo Anthony, could be something that goes on longer than a year. With Westbrook’s extension in hand, that reality is that much closer to coming to fruition.
David Purdum (ESPN) on ESPN’s odds going up with the acquisition of Anthony: “After acquiring Paul George and Carmelo Anthony in an active offseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s odd have moved from 60-1 to 16-1 to win the 2017-18 NBA championship at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. With George and Anthony joining reigning MVP Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, the Thunder have narrowed the gap with the other top tier of contenders in the Western Conference. The Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs are each listed at 15-1 to win the championship at the SuperBook.”
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” A simple exchange in what was basically a blowout in February, set the stage for what we’ve seen this offseason from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder could not do anything when Kevin Durant left them on July 4th, 2016. By the time he made his decision, most of the top notch free agents were already off the board. Instead, the Thunder strategized from that point forward and hoped opportunities would arise from a turbulent NBA landscape. And arise they did.
The summer of 2016 basically set the stage for what happened in Oklahoma City this offseason. When every team was infused with an extra 20 million, moves were made that were almost immediately regretted once the ink dried on those contracts. Finding an extra $20 million in your team’s salary cap is like finding $1000 in between your couch cushions. Some people will make wise decisions with that extra money. But others will treat it like house money and YOLO the hell out of it. Many teams made bad decisions that summer that eventually led to their salary caps being tied up for the next 2-4 seasons. Continue reading “I’m coming!” – The two words that galvanized a franchise.→
Media days can sometimes be an exercise in repetition. The same 2-3 questions can be rinsed, washed, and repeated for every player. What do you expect your role to be this season? What do you think about “latest talking point in the country”? What are the team expectations?
You can probably fill an entire article just with the answers from those 3 questions alone. The difficult part is trying to cut through all that player-speak and listen in to what the real themes are for the team. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, the one theme that consistently permeated throughout the entire day was winning.
But every team heads into the season talking about winning. Even those teams looking at an entire season of ineptitude find ways to think of sunshine and rainbows before the season starts. The Thunder’s talk of winning felt different though. It was talked about with brazen confidence. And for good reason, too. The brand new Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony gives the Thunder a collection of players they’ve never had since they moved to the Great Plains. Continue reading Recapping Thunder Media Day→