There were rumblings this past month that the Celtics were pursuing Russell Westbrook in what could’ve been a seismic trade, but Westbrook is now off the market. The superstar point guard has agreed with Oklahoma City on a three-year, $85 million contract extension, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski (first reported by Sonics Rising’s Kevin Nesgoda).
This impacts the Celtics in a number of ways.
Most immediately, it removes one of the best options in any potential deal this summer. Westbrook is a Hall of Fame talent that would’ve made the Celtics an instant contender this season. Danny Ainge will have to back to the drawing board to design a new scheme to acquire a star.
Perhaps the greatest implication will be felt next offseason.
Even with Westbrook extended, the Thunder could create the cap space necessary to pursue another star in what will be a loaded 2017 free agent class. The more title contenders with cap space there are, the more competition the Celtics will have for the services of players like Blake Griffin. That’s also true for any player that may become available on the trade market, assuming they have a say in their destination.
Woj reported that Griffin will be a "serious target" next summer, which could be bad news for the Celtics. Griffin is a native of Oklahoma and returning home could be an attractive choice. As stacked of a class it is next year, no other realistic unrestricted free agent is on the level of Griffin or Westbrook. Boston might end up being in the same spot next summer, pushing for stars through trades.
For Celtics fans still hoping there's a teeny tiny chance of acquiring Westbrook this season, you had better hope the Thunder are dumpster fire. If they are, and if they shop Russ, the Celtics would be right at the front of the line with their pile of assets. "So you're saying there's a chance?!" No. Don't count on it. Just don't. Dream about other stars instead. The chances are the Thunder will be right back in the playoffs with Westbrook dunking on fools like usual.
No matter the case, the Celtics are in a tremendous position going forward with so many assets under control. Fans will have to keep wishing upon the stars though.
Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA