Russell Westbrook, only one year after losing superstar forward Kevin Durant in NBA free agency, now has another elite player at his side after the Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Indiana Pacers forward Paul George on Friday night.
The Thunder are in good shape, obviously, but it still could all far apart soon if Westbrook and George both leave after next season. They are eligible to be unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2018.
Westbrook already is able to sign a super-max contract and become the second $200 million player in league history, but that might not actually happen right away, per USA Today’s Sam Amick.
“While Westbrook isn’t expected to sign the five-year, $217 million extension offer on Friday night, he knows the offer is there with a pen waiting when he wants it,” Amick writes. “It will be there until the deadline at the start of the regular season, and now all the noise about what it means that he isn’t signing it right away is lessened because of the George acquisition.”
George could leave the Thunder and head further West to join the Los Angeles Lakers, who he reportedly prefers to sign with as a free agent next summer. If George leaves, will Westbrook follow him out the door?
The Thunder have taken that gamble with this trade for George, but it certainly was one worth making. If Westbrook and George turn into a productive duo and complement each other’s strength, OKC could be set up to contend in the West for the foreseeable future.
Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images