Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is in no rush to sign his mega-max extension with Oklahoma and it is not without reason.
Westbrook is one of the most competitive players the NBA has ever seen and, without a doubt, he wants to do whatever he can to add an NBA championship to his résumé. However, it is unlikely OKC could ever bring the former Bruin to the promise land.
As such, it would be smart for Westbrook to not the sign the extension and look to become a free agent after the 2017-18 NBA season.
Here are The JR Report’s reasons why.
Build Westbrook’s brand
Westbrook has yet to sign an extension that would bring him at least $200 million over five years, a contract that would be very tough to pass up. Nonetheless, a move out of OKC might hurt his NBA salary, but would not hurt his bank account.
In Oklahoma City, Westbrook would be able to bring in one of the highest salaries out of anyone in the league, however, greatness off the basketball court isn’t earned through salary but through endorsements and ownership of a brand.
It would be difficult for Westbrook to attain an elite status off the court while being in Oklahoma City since his current city holds the No. 45 biggest television market in the country compared to Los Angeles’ No. 2 rated market, per Station Index.
If Westbrook took his talents to Los Angeles, he would be met by an incredible market with many opportunities for his flamboyant style and outspoken personality.
It is possible that Westbrook could be the face of a clothing company, build his own shoe brand and be the face of one of the most notable franchises in the world.
Winning is most important
To be mentioned among the all-time greats, one must win championships, except for a few exceptions including Charles Barkley.
Therefore, Westbrook’s easiest path to cementing himself in NBA history is by winning.
Los Angeles has plenty of cap room in the future to assemble a very talented team. The organization also has a young core that could offer impeccable depth in combination with the expected arrival of NBA superstars in the coming years.
The Lakers, currently, have forward Brandon Ingram, forward Julius Randle, guard Jordan Clarkson and guard Lonzo Ball.
Most importantly, the organization will have Ingram and Ball for just over $13 million in the 2018/19 season, per Spotrac. Consequently, the team will have plenty of flexibility to sign players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook with smart maneuvering.
Los Angles would probably have to part ways with Randle and center Brook Lopez, but it would be worth the price of acquiring George and Westbrook.
If they can find a clever way to get rid of Clarkson and Deng, maybe in a deal together, they could shed another $30 million in cap space to help go after another star, maybe LeBron James.
If James, George and Westbrook go to Los Angeles, which is completely possible, the Lakers would immediately become the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors in the West.
If the aforementioned trio could knock the Warriors off, then each of their legacies will skyrocket as they were able to topple what some believe to be the greatest NBA team ever.
Westbrook, head home
Westbrook moving to Los Angeles makes too much sense. It makes sense on the court as he will infinitely improve his chances of winning an NBA title. The former Bruin will also be able to catapult his brand to new heights. Lastly, he will be heading home since he was born in Long Beach, California and played for the UCLA Bruins.
With those three reasons, it should not surprise anyone to see Westbrook in a Laker uniform come the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.