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Russell Westbrook's Gonzo Show Is Staying in OKC...For Now

Russell Westbrook and the Thunder renegotiated his contract to keep him in town for three more years.

The most important lingering question in the NBA has been answered: Russell Westbrook is staying in Oklahoma City. The star has agreed to sign an extension to stay with the Thunder, according to reports, adding two more years to his deal. In all, it's a three-year contract for $85.7 million.

This was the biggest domino waiting to be toppled in the league. Westbrook was the only star left in OKC: after the Thunder nearly toppled Golden State in the Western Conference Finals in June, Serge Ibaka got traded, Kevin Durant left for the Warriors, and even Dion Waiters bailed for Miami. But Westbrook is staying put.


Why? That's what we don't know yet. Westbrook got paid, that's for sure. He'll make an extra $8.7 million this upcoming season and will make the max in each of the next two years. He has an option to opt out before the third year of the deal, so really the only certainty the Thunder get from this contract is that Westbrook will still be there in 2017-18.

But Westbrook also made the decision to stick around in OKC as the lone star for an extra year when all his pairs are pairing up elsewhere. Look at this past season's All-NBA teams: of the 15 guys on it, there were three Warriors, two Spurs, two Thunder, two Clippers, and LeBron, who just won a ring with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

As the league turns into a bunch of cliques, Westbrook has decided to maroon himself on an island, bringing just Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams along with him. Maybe that's a recipe to finally get his own MVP award and the best stats of his career, but it's also begging for a first-round exit.

Westbrook, though, has always done things his own way. This is just him doubling down to stay with the only team he's known, and remain an iconoclast among his peers. He can still hit free agency two years from now, at age 29. Who knows what the NBA landscape will look like at that point. And Westbrook will have logged ten years in the league, allowing him to reach a new pay threshold and get a new fat contract as the salary cap rises ever higher.

Until then, Westbrook gets two years to try to keep the Thunder at a title-contending level. It sure seems unlikely he can do it, considering how stacked the West's top strata is—but who knows? Maybe the Thunder find another star to put around him. Blake Griffin will be the biggest free agent one year from now, and this deal not only allows the Thunder to sell him on the idea of a year with Westbrook throwing oops to him in his hometown; they can also sell Westbrook on exercising his player option for the following year. Or maybe Westbrook doesn't care and just really loves Sonic.

Maybe it's all a way to get more money next year before rethinking things, again. All we know right now is that Westbrook has a new deal.

[The Vertical]