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Westbrook's deal should keep Thunder near top

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Russell Westbrook's large commitment to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Thunder's massive commitment to Westbrook, should keep the franchise in contention for years to come.

This was all pointed out by Erik Horne of The Oklahoman -- after Westbrook inked a five-year extension worth an NBA-record $205 million Friday. Westbrook is the reigning MVP, a walking triple-double and the league's best all-around guard (and perhaps player). He only has one gear, he only wants to win.

And now, he has help in the form of All-Star forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. That is something about which Horne wrote extensively.

"Anthony is in the final guaranteed season on his contract. He has an early termination option in his contract for 2018-19 which he could trigger, allowing him to become a free agent in the summer of 2018," Horne wrote. "If he opts in, Anthony will play a second season in Oklahoma City at $27.9 million."

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Horne continued: "But Anthony will be 34 in May and likely won't command more than that per season in free agency. In addition to the guaranteed money Anthony gets in returning to Oklahoma City, he now knows Westbrook will be here long term. Westbrook signing is confirmation at least one star is sticking around, and it gives Anthony more incentive to remain with a winner after four consecutive losing seasons in New York."

As for George, he too can become a free agent at season's end -- and depending on how the season shapes up, Westbrook's new deal could influence George to stay. After all, it would be tough for George to find another teammate like Westbrook who is in his prime and committed.

And let's not forget the Thunder's ability to now attract even more free agents. Oh, and all those Westbrook-to-LA rumors can now officially die.

How it all plays out, of course, remains to be seen. But Westbrook and the Thunder will now be a thing for quite some time, and for Westbrook and the Thunder, that can only be a good thing.