Russell Westbrook has spent his entire career in Kevin Durant’s shadow, and his first news conference since the star’s exit was no different.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard made it clear he was exactly where he wanted to be after signing a three-year deal worth a reported $85million.
“There’s no need to wait if you know where you want to be. There’s no need to waste time,” Westbrook told reporters, perhaps hinting to his old running mate Durant. “I felt like this is the best place for me and the best team.”
Westbrook’s new deal comes one month to the day since Durant announced he would leave Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors.
The 27-year-old point guard was not set to become a free agent until next year, but apparently his mind was made up.
“I understand free agency and I understand having an opportunity to go, but once that happened, I asked [Thunder general manager] Sam [Presti], ‘What’s next?'” Westbrook said.
What was next was a new deal for the five-time NBA All-Star and 2016 All-NBA first-teamer.
“This was not something that he had to do, or even needed to do,” Presti said. “It’s something that he wanted.”
Despite what should have been his moment, Westbrook had to deal with Durant’s ghost several times during his media session.
Perhaps the most telling moment was when he was asked whether Durant going to the Warriors made the loss sting more.
“Sting for who?” Russell fired back as the room erupted.
When asked if Durant leaving will affect their friendship, Westbrook was momentarily nostalgic.
“We’ve been together eight years. You just don’t throw that away,” he said. “Obviously, we’ll talk eventually.”