Oklahoma City’s All-Star guard Russell Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, are engaged with Thunder GM Sam Presti about the next steps of Westbrook’s career, including the possibility of a trade prior to the start of next season, league sources told ESPN.
The two sides have 11 years of history together and both understand that the time has likely come to explore trade possibilities for Westbrook, league sources tell ESPN.
In the aftermath of All-Star Paul George pushing the Thunder to trade him to the LA Clippers to partner with free agent Kawhi Leonard, the Thunder’s window to advance in the playoffs has seemingly closed. The Clippers’ return to OKC of five future first-round picks, two pick swaps and All-Rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander marks the beginning of the reshaping of the Thunder’s roster.
The remaining four-years and $170 million on Westbrook’s contract is no longer sensible for a non-contender.
For the Thunder, this marks the first look at a possible franchise reset since the team moved to Oklahoma City from Seattle, with Westbrook, 30, the final player remaining from the original team that relocated.
Westbrook was faced with a similar situation in 2016 in the wake of Kevin Durant‘s departure to the Golden State Warriors, but after weighing options elected to renegotiate his contract and sign an extension with the Thunder. The Thunder used that agreement as a springboard to extending their window, trading for George the following summer as Westbrook signed a five-year supermax extension to become the highest paid player in NBA history at the time. Circumstances are different in a few significant ways now, though, with Westbrook’s age, current contract and position of the Thunder.
The Thunder could conceivably rework the roster to try and remain competitive around Westbrook and Steven Adams, though that scenario is unlikely. Operating well over the salary cap with a projected salary tax payment of $43 million with the existing roster, the Thunder were in cost-cutting mode before George’s trade and will only accelerate on that front now.
Westbrook has had three consecutive seasons of averaging triple doubles, and was voted the NBA’s MVP in the 2017 season.
ESPN NBA reporter Royce Young contributed to this report.