Russell Westbrook‘s contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder is the most lucrative in the history of the NBA.
With the new deal, Oklahoma City has $138 million in guaranteed contracts for next season if both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony opt into their deals. The salary cap is projected to be $101 million for the 2018-19 season, with a projected luxury tax number of around $125 million.
The team will pay significant luxury tax penalties as potential repeat offenders. But the front office is reportedly committed to fronting a massive luxury tax bill, which means they won’t be afraid to retain both George and Anthony.
As such, the Thunder could become the first NBA team in history to spend $300 million on combined salary and luxury tax.
Westbrook is now locked in for the next five seasons. Now, Presti will shift his focus to persuading George and Anthony to stay long-term as well. But that might just happen.
Royce Young wrote about how Westbrook signing an extension could impact George (via ESPN):
“George’s free agency will now spring back into the top of the conversation, and while he’s saying nice things about OKC and the organization, the draw of Los Angeles isn’t going away. The Thunder have positioned themselves well, but the biggest hook they can sink into George is Westbrook’s cemented future.”
Westbrook is fully committed to OKC and he doesn’t have to worry about the potential distraction his looming free agency may have caused him and his teammates (who would likely be asked about it often as well). He can focus on winning and having a strong season alongside George, which could help convince PG to stay.
Anthony, meanwhile, would be wise to opt-in to his deal considering it would be worth just short of $28 million for next year. But if he decided to test the open market, he likely would not make anywhere near that salary.
If the team fits well together and makes a run in the Western Conference, the Thunder may become the first team in the history of the league to spend $300 million in total money depending on how they fill out the rest of their roster.