With Kevin Durant leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors, ex-teammate Russell Westbrook just got handed the keys to a burning Ferrari. Now the question is does he want to put the fire out, fix it and ride out, or just find a new car altogether.
ESPN is reporting that those closest to Russell Westbrook is still on the fence about whether or not he wants to sign a contract extension with the Thunder or go elsewhere. Westbrook becomes a free agent in 2017 and was looking forward to making that decision then. But with Durant leaving, he is virtually forced to make the decision now in some way or another. He can either play the final year of his current contract and decide to stay or leave. Or he can inform the Thunder of his supposed desire to change teams and give them time to work on trading him.
Royce Young writes:
Westbrook has been forced into his free agency a year earlier than expected. Effectively, he’s making his 2017 decision now. He’s either in with the Thunder, or he tells them he’s not, and they trade him.
Westbrook is taking time not just to figure out his next steps, but also to lick his own wounds. Reports have come out suggesting Westbrook’s style of play influenced Durant to leave, though Durant publicly denied that in Las Vegas recently. The two have not spoken since Durant’s decision. Those close to Westbrook say he’s both angry and hurt not only by Durant’s decision to leave but also because Durant didn’t even call to tell him personally. Westbrook wasn’t prepared to be in this position — three weeks ago, like everyone else, he thought Durant was coming back. And he had to learn the hard way he wasn’t.
Westbrook has remained mum, but he and the Thunder have been in communication often since Durant’s departure. Plenty want to hear from Westbrook, but he isn’t going to play out his free agency in the public eye. There won’t be any “I’ll make that decision when the time comes” mediaspeak. It’s not hard to gauge him when it comes to public comments; he’s as transparent as they come. And with Durant now gone, Westbrook understands the gravity of his own choice — he leaves, and the organization burns to the ground in a summer. So he wants to give them clarity to either move on with or without him.
Early rumors have placed Westbrook back in his hometown Los Angeles playing for the Lakers. Especially with his well-known desires to get into the fashion industry and become an even bigger brand.
ESPN also writes that Westbrook and Durant have not spoke since the decision.