Russell Westbrook Signs Contract Extension with Oklahoma City Thunder: “We’re here for the long haul and trying to make big things happen.”January 20, 2012 – 9:00 am by Michael Bean
I guess the Oklahoma City Thunder believe that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can co-exist over the long run, as the franchise announced on Thursday that they had signed Westbrook to a multi-year extension. The fourth-year point guard out of UCLA has appeared in 261 games (244 starts) and registered averages of 17.9 points, 7.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals in 33.8 minutes per contest. Impressive numbers, no doubt, and a nice versatile complimentary piece to play alongside Durant. The worry though was that Westbrook wasn’t thrilled about playing second fiddle to anyone, and each time cameras caught the two having a heated conversation, there speculation fired back up that the two were incompatible and unlikely to both remain in OKC into the future. Apparently the concern was unfounded. Now Westbrook and Durant can focus on taking the next big step in this year’s playoffs.
Westbrook joined The Sports Animal in Oklahoma City to talk about the job done by Sam Presti and his agent getting an extension done, agreeing to the extension when he could have received more money at a later date, the Thunder being positioned perfectly to be very good for a long time, how he wasn’t even arguing with Durant and instead talking to Kendrick Perkins in the huddle recently, the national media blowing that story way out of proportion, not being surprised that Kevin Love would be as good as he is, and the outstanding play of Perkins this season after reporting to the Thunder’s abbreviated training camp in great shape.
On the impressive work done by the Thunder front office and his agent getting a deal done:
“Yeah, honestly, Sam [Presti] and my agent, they did a great job and I just kind of let it play out. They got something done and I’m very, very happy to be where I am.”
On getting the deal done when he could have held out and made more money later:
“Oh yeah, I love Oklahoma City man — the fans, my teammates, everything about it. I’m looking forward to staying here and just continuing my journey in Oklahoma City. I started here and I’d like to keep it going. That’s what my main focus is — trying to stay back in Oklahoma.”
On the Thunder being positioned nicely to be very good for a long time:
“It’s important, I think, for a lot of guys on the team. This deal wasn’t for me, it was for the city and my family and for my teammates to let everybody know that we’re here for the long haul and that we’re trying to make big things happen. I think everybody on the team understands that and we’re looking forward to it.”
If he thinks the national media made too much out of the supposed argument he and Kevin Durant had in the huddle recently:
“Honestly, man, the huddle, me and Kevin weren’t even arguing to begin with; I was discussing something with Kendrick Perkins. It was definitely blown out of proportion. But me and Kevin, we’re great friends. He’s a great guy, one of the best guys I’ve known since I’ve been here and growing up around here. Me and Kevin are going to continue to have a great relationship, all it does is just keep bringing us closer, and that’s what it’s been doing and it’s been helping us out.”
If he thought Kevin Love, also a UCLA guy, was going to be this good:
“Oh yes, definitely. Kevin is a good friend of mine, and he’s one of the best rebounders I’ve ever seen if not the best. He’s doing great things for his organization over there, and I know good things are going to happen for him.”
If he was surprised when the lockout was over and he saw haw great of shape Kendrick Perkins was in:
“I saw Kendrick a few times in the summer, and I saw him working hard and steadily losing weight, losing weight. His knee was feeling better, he was in better shape and I knew there would be great things for us. I’ve said it many times, he’s the best defender in the league in my opinion. And he’s been playing great for us this year.”