Russell Westbrook figured if basketball didn’t work out, real estate would be his ticket to a rewarding, profitable career once he finished college at UCLA.

Russell Westbrook figured if basketball didn’t work out, real estate would be his ticket to a rewarding, profitable career once he finished college at UCLA.
After being selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, and with nearly $3 million guaranteed in his first year as a professional, Westbrook can start looking for real estate instead of trying to sell it.
Westbrook’s just not sure yet if it will be in Seattle or Oklahoma City.
“We don’t have any control over that,” Westbrook said Friday of the court decision expected to come next Wednesday that will determine just where the Sonics will play the 2008-09 season. “All we can do is go out and give it our all as a team.”
Westbrook, who left UCLA after his sophomore year, and fellow draft picks D.J. White, Serge Ibaka and DeVon Hardin were introduced Friday in Seattle, even though they could be calling Oklahoma City home next season.
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman has said she will rule Wednesday in the just-concluded trial involving the city of Seattle and the Sonics, as the team tries to escape the final two years of its lease at KeyArena.
But courtroom proceedings and basketball court issues have remained mostly separated at the Sonics headquarters.
 The team’s focus in the draft was finding fixes for the defense.
Along with Westbrook, the Sonics looked for depth in the frontcourt, adding Indiana’s White, the Big 10 player of the year last season, and California’s Hardin. Seattle also took Ibaka, an 18-year-old from the Congo — but that raw talent will spend the next few years developing in Spain before the Sonics consider bringing him to the NBA.
“We’ve talked about trying to create a defensive mentality and about guys that want to get better and we feel like in the selections that we made, these guys are consistent in the philosophies we’ve established,” Sonics general manager Sam Presti said.
With a dominant interior defender not high on the draft board, the Sonics decided that shoring up their perimeter defense was the direction to go with the fourth pick. Leading up to the draft, Presti heard a continual refrain from many of the top players in the Pac-10 who would come through for workouts and were asked to name the toughest player they faced last year. The answer was always Westbrook.
“I felt like I was in a movie,” Presti said.
Presti stayed firm on his decision to go with Westbrook, even as many draft observers criticized the Sonics for bypassing Westbrook’s college teammate — Kevin Love — and going with the guard who started only a handful of games at point guard in college, but is expected to play that position in the pros.
The Sonics say Westbrook’s defensive intensity outweighs any inexperience he might have.
“He’s got to go out and do it ... but he just played against half of the first round and guarded them really well,” Sonics’ coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Westbrook’s play at UCLA, where he was the Pac-10 defensive player of the year. “The first thing out of every coach in that league is ’he can guard.”’
With the drafting of Westbrook, the Sonics now have a glut of players at point guard with Earl Watson and Luke Ridnour. Watson, a UCLA alum who has raved about Westbrook in the past, may be best suited as a veteran mentor, and Carlesimo even mentioned Friday the idea of playing the pair together.
That could mean Ridnour is again shopped as a trade option for teams seeking guard help.
“We’re certainly not at a point where we are satisfied. There are a lot of ways we still need to improve,” Presti said.
White impressed the Sonics with his determination in recovering from a serious foot injury that cost him his sophomore year at Indiana. He came back to become the best player in the Big 10 last year. He was at home in Alabama when the Detroit Pistons took him with the 29th pick, but quickly learned he was being sent to Seattle in exchange for a pair of second-round picks.
“I got my explosiveness back this year and took my game to another level,” White said.
Hardin likely would have been a first-round pick had he come out after his junior year at Cal, but returned and was inconsistent as a senior. Yet, with injury issues dogging the Sonics’ frontcourt, the 6-foot-11, 250-pound Hardin may have a shot at making the Sonics roster.
Westbrook, White and Hardin will all be playing for the Sonics’ summer league team in Orlando next month, along with Jeff Green, an all-NBA rookie team selection last year. Even Kevin Durant might show up and jump in for a game or two.
“Those guys have a lot of winning backgrounds ... they’ve all been in winning programs,” Green said Friday as he watched his new teammates get introduced. “We got some good quality players. I feel we can win a lot of games because of their character and the way they play.”