Russell Westbrook has a full year before he will decide what to do, but the Sam Presti and the Oklahoma City Thunder management may not be willing to take the risk. Westbrook is not expected to sign a contract extension, knowing he has big bucks waiting in the Summer of 2017.

That is of course no guarantee that Russell Westbrook has decided on leaving the Thunder. Like most free agents who had a wild 2016 Summer, it is all about the money. Depending on what Presti and company have on the table, they are technically in the running to retain the all-star guard’s services.

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Thunder need to bolster the lineup

Aside from the money, Westbrook will place into consideration his supporting cast. With Kevin Durant moving to the Golden State Warriors, Westbrook is now expected to be the main star of the team. He has proven he can pick up the slack. Westbrook showed this in 2015 when Durant was beset by injuries. He put up big numbers and showed he can lead the team when the opportunity arises.

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The fact is Westbrook needs help. Aside from Durant, Serge Ibaka is also gone. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the 2016 NBA Draft, which leaves the forward-line depleted.

Enes Kanter and Steven Adams are expected to fill up that hole but compared to a Durant-Ibaka combo, the difference is obvious. Nick Collison is still around but the three are more of players who do the dirty work than people who can score.

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Ersan Ilyasova may be able to help out though he is a far cry from a Kevin Durant.

The Thunder did get Victor Oladipo but seeing he is a point guard as well, Westbrook could move up to the shooting guard role if Billy Donovan warrants it.

Give up and trade Westbrook?

The buzz around is that Westbrook will eventually be traded. Presti is too wise to end up with nothing for Westbrook next season. The move could be disastrous to their campaign but the Thunder will eventually have to rebuild.

The Boston Celtics are singled out as a prime destination though nothing is certain. Westbrook could be dealt but the question now is who will the Thunder want in return?

Westbrook wants to lead the team next season, but the catch here is only ‘for the coming season’. Like Durant, he will likely cross the bridge when he gets there. With so much in the line, Presti and Thunder management may not be going all-in and take that chance.

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