While trade rumors continue to swirl around Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder's "primary offseason objective" is still to try and get Westbrook to renegotiate and extend his contract so he doesn't hit free agency next summer, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. If successful, Woj reports the Thunder would swing for the fences by trying to sign Oklahoma native Blake Griffin to pair with Westbrook.
The question of Westbrook's future with the Thunder became a hot topic in the immediate aftermath of Kevin Durant's decision to join the Golden State Warriors. Initial reports stated Westbrook has little intention of extending his contract in Oklahoma City this summer, but the Thunder have reportedly been in regular contact with him and his agent since Durant's July 4 decision. They're hoping to change Westbrook's mind on the matter.
While Westbrook has yet to make any type of commitment to Oklahoma City, Woj reports the Thunder have been rebuffing teams that have reached out about a possible trade for the star guard. Oklahoma City also just rescinded the qualifying offer for guard Dion Waiters, a move that was done in order to save cap space for a potential Westbrook renegotiation.
Though it is usually more lucrative financially for players to wait until free agency, the Vertical's Bobby Marks recently explained that a short-term commitment to the Thunder through 2017-18 would make some sense for Westbrook. Waiting until 2018 to hit free agency would bump the guard up to a "Tier 3 max player" because he would have 10 years of service, making him eligible for a maximum contract worth roughly 35 percent of the cap.
This would also give the Thunder more time to attempt to build a title contender around Westbrook, so he'd then feel compelled to make a long-term commitment. Westbrook is reportedly a fan of the young talent already on the roster, but more is needed to get back to title contention level. That is where the chase for Griffin comes in. Griffin isn't on the same level as Durant, but a Westbrook-Griffin duo would be devastating in its own right and would vault Oklahoma City back up near the top of the Western Conference.
Of course, actually signing Griffin is much easier said than done:
Mentioned the Thunder's likelihood to pursue Blake Griffin a few weeks ago and while it's a good plan, it's also a bit of a longshot.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) July 19, 2016
Griffin has been the subject of trade rumors himself, but he's in a good spot with the Los Angeles Clippers, even if Chris Paul is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. The 27-year-old power forward may look elsewhere if the Clippers can't get past that second-round hump next season, but if healthy they'll be in position to make a deep playoff run. And even if Griffin has a wandering eye, he may not want to go back home to play, whether that's because he doesn't want to deal with the distractions or because of potential questions about Westbrook's long-term future.
There should be other quality options available in free agency next summer even if Griffin doesn't come, although those other options may not be good enough to entice Westbrook to stick around. Plus, all this could be a moot point if Westbrook never gives a commitment and the Thunder ultimately decide to trade him.
Nevertheless, for now it appears Thunder general manager Sam Presti is going to do whatever he can to convince Westbrook to stay.
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