Russell Westbrook took a sledgehammer to the rumor mill late Wednesday evening by reportedly agreeing to an extension that may preserve the All-NBA level guard in Oklahoma Metropolis by means of 2017-18. The renegotiated contract boosts Westbrook’s wage significantly this subsequent season (a season for which Westbrook was already underneath contract) and locks within the following season as properly, that means the purpose guard’s seemingly new free agent date is July 1, 2018.
The apparent upshot is that the Thunder not have to fret about dropping All-NBA expertise for nothing in consecutive offseasons. There have been compelling causes for Westbrook to take this deal — not the least of which is that this setup is his most profitable lengthy-time period path — however that doesn’t make it any much less of a coup for Oklahoma Metropolis.
The concern of Westbrook leaving subsequent July as Kevin Durant did this summer time was so nicethat if the guard didn’t comply with this extension, OKC would possible have traded him to make sure there was a return on funding. Clearly, preserving Westbrook and guaranteeing that he can’t bolt in 2017 is a most well-liked final result.
However what occurs now? This isn’t the top of the story of Westbrook and the Thunder, only a twist within the narrative. Right here’s what occurs due to Westbrook’s choice.
OKC was capable of supply a renegotiated 2016-17 wage for Westbrook solely as a result of the Thunder had cap area this summer time. (Thanks, Kevin.) As we’ve mentioned all yr, the wage cap exploded, giving most groups a considerable amount of house to signal free brokers. Together with the cap (now $ninety four million and projected to be $102 million subsequent summer season), the posh tax threshold additionally rose. It sits at $113 million this 12 months and will rise once more in 2017.
As a result of the free agent market is picked over and resulting from wage-matching guidelines, it’s unlikely OKC will have the ability to totally leverage that payroll flexibility between now and subsequent summer time. That’s advantageous. Subsequent July is the place an additional yr of Westbrook actually pays off.
OKC didn’t have an actual shot at chasing free brokers in 2016. Durant selected July four. Many of the high choices had discovered offers by then and Westbrook didn’t commit to remain one other 12 months till August. In 2017, Westbrook will already be locked in and the Thunder ought to have gobs of cap area (presuming they don’t hand out large early extensions to Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson, which is feasible however unlikely). The Thunder will be capable of credibly chase prime free brokers.
(This all assumes there’s not a piece stoppage.)
In the event that they don’t land any huge free brokers? Nicely, Westbrook would nonetheless be a extremely tradable asset.
A key cause Westbrook selected this route is as a result of he desires to signal his subsequent lengthy-time period deal as soon as he has 10 years of service within the league. With 10 years beneath his belt, he can signal a deal beginning at 35 % of the cap in lieu of 30 %. With a $a hundred million wage cap, that’s a further $5 million within the first yr and just below $forty five million over a 5-yr deal (factoring in raises).
There’s an enormous monetary incentive to lock in as soon as you’re a 10-yr veteran. It explains Durant’s 1+1 contract in Golden State (he’ll probably choose out in 2017 and signal an extended, extra profitable cope with the Warriors as a ten-yr vet, barring contract rule modifications in a brand new labor deal). It explains James Harden’s renegotiation and extension, which locks him in till 2019 … when he’ll be a ten-12 months veteran.
Gamers and brokers are well focusing in on that milestone. Groups are providing offers (like Westbrook’s contract in OKC) that play to that technique. It’s one thing all analysts ought to take note of when studying tea leaves, and one thing the league is definitely conscious of because it appears for methods to extend star retention capability for groups and enhance parity.
Everyone knows Westbrook’s choice comes with enormous monetary incentives, and everyone knows it’s actually only one further 12 months of dedication. That’s hardly a lifetime tether.
For the broader viewers — and arguably for us, too — that doesn’t matter. What issues is that Russell Westbrook selected to decide to tiny, underdog Oklahoma Metropolis a month after Kevin Durant bolted for Silicon Valley.
Westbrook is clearly a hero in Oklahoma now, however it will unfold past: He’s going to be the nation’s favourite sports activities babyface for the following 12 months or two. He already checks plenty of the Wildly Well-liked Athlete containers. He performs loopy onerous, he’s basically indestructible and he has a pointy aggressive edge. Ignore for a second that he’s terrible with the media, that his style is insane and that he has intense handshake choreography. These are area of interest subjects in comparison with the broader, marquee narrative which is that when the going received powerful, Russell Westbrook acquired harder.
Durant didn’t need assistance turning into a nationwide villain — he achieved that by becoming a member of the seventy three-win Warriors. In truth, the Warriors’ personal heel flip was almost full and Durant was the coup de grace for that entire collective. However by offering a stark distinction, Westbrook has deepened the Durant dislike we’ll see in full impact for the subsequent 12 months. And each little little bit of anti-Durant sentiment has the impact of boosting the professional-Westbrook sentiment.
By doing the other of what Durant did, Westbrook has elevated his standing among the many broad, non-obsessive NBA fandom. (Westbrook has lengthy been a hero among the many obsessed.) He’s being touted as an MVP favourite as a result of his field scores are going to be insane. As an alternative, tout him because the presumptive 2016-17 MVP as a result of America eats these things up. That is Derrick Rose in 2011. Watch it occur.
What’s superb is that the facility of narrative will overcome the fundamental information of the state of affairs, which reveal that Westbrook is a surly shot-jacker from L.A. with costly style and tendencies towards being a tough teammate. As an avowed Westbrook booster since endlessly, I couldn’t be extra happy to witness all that get shrouded by a story that claims Westbrook is a loyal powerful man prepared to sacrifice to deliver slightly metropolis some huge glory.
No matter will get America absolutely on board with the Westbrook Expertise works for me.
Copyright © 2016 |thenews1.com