July 20, 2024

Oklahoma City Thunder News: 2016-17 Roster Changes Following Russell Westbrook Contract, Kevin Durant Departure, and Trades
Despite speculation that Russell Westbrook would join a new team before the end of the 2016-17 NBA season, the superstar point guard has committed to staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the foreseeable future. Westbrook has agreed to a three-year contract extension worth an estimated $85 million, avoiding free agency next year.

When Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors, it was widely assumed that Westbrook’s days in Oklahoma City were numbered. The Thunder are no longer a title contender without Durant, so it only made sense for Westbrook to sign elsewhere after the final year of his contract, hoping to win a championship.

However, the Thunder do not have to worry about losing Westbrook for nothing. The recent news will put an end to any trade rumors involving teams such as the Boston Celtics, as well as speculation about Westbrook signing with the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks next summer.

Westbrook is now Oklahoma City’s only star player, and he will lead a Thunder roster that has undergone several major changes since losing a 3-1 series lead and being eliminated from the Western Conference finals.

Westbrook has spent his entire career alongside Durant, but he did get the opportunity to lead Oklahoma City without the four-time scoring champion. Durant missed two-thirds of the 2014-15 season due to a foot injury, so Westbrook led the NBA in scoring after the All-Star break, averaging 31.4 points, 9.9 assists, and 8.6 rebounds per game. Last season, he led the NBA with 18 triple-doubles, and he should surpass that figure next year.

However, Westbrook’s heroics were insufficient to propel the Thunder into the playoffs two years ago, and the team’s 45 wins were the fewest in six years.

In the 2016-17 season, Westbrook will be the best player on a Thunder team without Durant and Serge Ibaka. On the day of the NBA draft, Oklahoma City traded Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova, and the rights to Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis, who was selected 11th overall.

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