Russell Westbrook

NBA Notes: Russell Westbrook signs massive extension with Thunder

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NBA Notes: Russell Westbrook signs massive extension with Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook is staying with the Thunder.

The superstar point guard and reigning NBA MVP has signed a contract extension to remain in Oklahoma City, the team announced Friday. ESPN first reported the agreement and said it would be for five years and worth $205 million.

Westbrook made an Instagram post Friday afternoon, a photo of him yelling at Chesapeake Energy Arena with his arms raised in the air. His words of choice to go with the photo are the words he lives by and the name of his charitable foundation: "WHY NOT??"

Westbrook said this week that Oklahoma City is where he wanted to be. He said he was thrilled with the offseason additions of four-time All-Star Paul George and 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Both have player options on their deals after this season.

"I love being here," he said. "I'm excited about the season. Obviously, with a lot of new changes, and I'm excited" (see full story).

Cavaliers: LeBron (ankle) misses 2nd straight practice
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- LeBron James missed his second straight practice with a sprained left ankle, an injury that happened on Dwyane Wade's first day with the Cavaliers.

James was at the team's Cleveland Clinic Courts facility getting treatment Friday, and could be seen in the training and fitness area. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the superstar is day to day, but the team has not said much else about James' injury.

The three-time NBA champion rolled his ankle on Wednesday night, shortly after his good friend Wade turned down other offers to sign a one-year, $2.3 million contract with Cleveland.

It's not known how James hurt his ankle. The team said X-rays were negative.

James has tweaked his ankles in the past, but the 32-year-old has been incredibly durable throughout his career, playing in at least 75 games in 12 of his 14 regular seasons. He played in 74 games last season (see full story).

Hawks: Schroder charged with battery after fight
ATLANTA -- Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder has been charged with battery after a fight at a late-night restaurant.

Brookhaven police reported that Schroder and three other men were arrested in an altercation around 2 a.m. Friday at the 6am restaurant. A review of video from the scene led to the misdemeanor charges.

According to a police report, the video shows a total of seven people, including a security office, involved in "what appeared to be a verbal heated exchange." It also shows Schroder shoving the victim, Joey Hall, before he and the other three members of his party attacked Hall with their hands and feet. Security officers were able to stop the brawl before police arrived.

The report says Hall sustained scratches to his right knee and complained of right ankle pain before he was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital.

The Hawks said they were aware of the incident but declined further comment.

NBA Notes: Dwyane Wade to reportedly join Cavs, reunite with LeBron James

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NBA Notes: Dwyane Wade to reportedly join Cavs, reunite with LeBron James

CLEVELAND -- Together again: LeBron and D-Wade. Just like old times.

Dwyane Wade has decided to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and reunite with LeBron James, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Tuesday night.

Wade is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday and then join the Cavs, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal cannot be completed until the 12-time All-Star goes through the waiver process.

In Cleveland, Wade will be reunited with James, his close friend, former Miami teammate and a player he confided in before signing with his hometown Chicago Bulls last year.

Wade and James won two NBA titles together during four seasons with the Heat and will now chase another one with the Cavs, who have been revamped after losing to Golden State in last season's Finals.

On Monday, James said he would love to play with Wade again.

"He brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA," James said at Cleveland's media day. "He brings another player to the team who can get guys involved, can make plays and also has a great basketball mind. ... I hope we can bring him here. I would love to have him" (see full story).

Suns: Warren signs 4-year, $50 million extension
PHOENIX -- T.J. Warren has signed a $50 million, four-year contract extension with the Phoenix Suns.

The 6-foot-8 forward, nicknamed "Tony Buckets" by teammates, is entering his fourth NBA season. He averaged career highs of 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds over 66 games last season. After the All-Star break, he averaged 17.6 points and shot 56 percent from the field.

The team announced the deal Tuesday.

Warren was the 17th overall pick out of North Carolina State in the 2014 draft after earning ACC player of the year honors and breaking the school's season scoring record, set 39 years earlier by David Thompson.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough says Warren has improved every year and is expected to continue his development as he approaches his prime.

Thunder: GM Presti evolves, surrounds Westbrook with stars
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Sam Presti has evolved with the times.

Oklahoma City's general manager is perhaps best known for drafting Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Over the years, instead of adding big-name free agents and making blockbuster trades, he has added relatively inexpensive players around his stars and built through the draft.

His plans have mostly worked. The Thunder have played in the Western Conference Finals four times and the NBA Finals once since Presti took the job in 2007, and both Durant and Westbrook have won MVP awards.

Not everything has been rosy. Presti couldn't work out a contract extension with Harden in 2012. And last year, Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State. Durant recently criticized Thunder management for failing to put the right players around him to compete for a title.

In a perfectly timed move, Presti shook the NBA by trading for 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder already had traded for four-time All-Star Paul George in the offseason. With the addition of the kind of talent Durant so desperately wanted in Oklahoma City, it appears Presti has turned over a new leaf. The man who always has focused on the process has shifted gears and built a super team in a matter of months (see full story).

If you're cool with Chris Paul's decision, then you should be with Kevin Durant's

If you're cool with Chris Paul's decision, then you should be with Kevin Durant's

I'll probably get killed for this because it's 2017 and 75 percent of the audience will only read the headline, but as the self-declared president of Leave Kevin Durant Alone Enterprises, it's my obligation.

Let's start with a simple question: If you had a problem with KD joining the Warriors last summer, do you also have a problem with Chris Paul forcing a trade to the Rockets?

Because if you took issue with what Durant did but felt nothing about Paul fleeing L.A. for Houston ... that's kinda hypocritical.

No, I am not saying the two situations are exactly the same. Here are the differences:

• Durant is a top-three player. Paul is more like top-10 or 12 at this point.

• The Warriors are the best team in the NBA. The Rockets are probably the third-best team in the NBA.

• The Rockets did not eliminate the Clippers in the playoffs this past season.

And that, really, is where the differences end.

Paul wasn't going to win with the Clippers just like Durant wasn't going to win with the Thunder. Would it have made any sense for them to linger on teams destined to go 53-29 and lose in the playoffs rather than find a better situation?

The Clippers and Thunder were fringe Western Conference contenders. They were not going to supplant the Warriors, Spurs or Rockets barring some catastrophic injuries to those top teams. 

Paul could have made the most money staying in L.A.; Durant could have made the most money staying in OKC. But winning was more important to them than extracting every last dollar. And both the Warriors and Rockets were able to maneuver their rosters to pay them a boatload of money anyway. How can you hold the desire to win while also making a lot of money against either of them?

The common refrain for the anti-KD crowd is that the Thunder were a game away from dethroning the 73-win Warriors in the 2016 Western Conference Finals and after losing, Durant joined the team that beat him.

My question is very simple: Does that one playoff series cancel out or outweigh the previous decade of Durant's career? 

The Thunder spent years falling short, and they weren't about to take the next step with Durant, Russell Westbrook and a bunch of guys who have a useful skill or two each. The 2016 WC Finals near-miss wasn't a building block for that OKC team, it was a deflating example of what they were: good enough to go far when they're at their peak, but not good enough to finish the job.

And I guaran-damn-tee you that if the Thunder lost to anyone else in the 2016-17 playoffs, the reaction to Durant's joining the Warriors would have been different.

Plus, it's not like the Thunder had a legitimate path to putting the finishing touches on their roster to surge ahead of the Warriors. They weren't in a great cap situation and had already paid Enes Kanter $70 million and knew they needed to pay Steven Adams. There wasn't going to be a way for OKC to add difference-making pieces to help Durant and Westbrook.

The intent of this is not to persuade people to start criticizing Chris Paul for leaving a good situation for a great one. It's to attempt to persuade the people that will forever dislike Kevin Durant to chill out and realize this is how the modern NBA works. Guys want to play with their friends. Guys want to win. Guys are willing to accept lesser stats and slightly less money in the name of getting a ring and adding to their legacy.

Kobe wouldn't have done what Durant did. Nor would Michael Jordan. But neither of them was in their prime in 2016 or 2017, when juggernauts had already been created in Golden State and Cleveland and a team like the Kobe-Pau Gasol-Lamar Odom Lakers would have gone something like 48-34. They played in different NBAs.

LeBron's Cavs swept Paul George's Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. If that series went seven games instead, would we be blasting George for being interested in going to Cleveland?

OK, I'm done. I promise to settle down about the hypocrisy of the Durant reactions for at least a few months. As long as you promise to realize that those playoff games against the Warriors in 2016 weren't the only seven games of Durant's career.