Despite the trade rumors swirling all around Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder seem confident they can retain their superstar point guard, and go after another star to pair with him. According to realgm.com, the Thunder are planning to pursue Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin during his 2017 free agency in order to pair him with Westbrook.
— RealGM (@RealGM) July 19, 2016
The fact that the Thunder are looking forward at how to make the team a contender again instead of focusing on possible trade destinations for Westbrook should be a good sign for Oklahoma City fans everywhere.
While Westbrook has not agreed to renegotiate his contract yet, the Thunder gave a big indicator that they feel he will yesterday by rescinding their qualifying offer to Dion Waiters.
Waiters gave a strong performance in last year’s playoffs, and it seemed the team would be interested in keeping him if the price was right. Instead, they let him become an unrestricted free agent. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, this move could be in order to protect cap space for Westbrook’s renegotiation:
“The move protects salary cap space for the Thunder’s primary offseason objective, league sources said: persuading five-time All-Star guard Russell Westbrook to renegotiate his contract, which would eliminate his 2017 free agency.”
While the Thunder still hold Waiters’ Bird Rights and could technically re-sign him, teams like Brooklyn and Philadelphia are expected to make offers that will be severely higher than what the Thunder can offer.