The Oklahoma City Thunder cast young talent on their roster, but none better than Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. On August 2, Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder agreed to a contract extension to keep the star point guard with the team until 2027.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported news of the max extension on Twitter.
Going into his fourth season, Gilgeous-Alexander is only getting better. In his third year as a pro, Shai produced career highs. He averaged 23.7 points per game, along with six assists and five rebounds per game.
The career-high in points per game can be attributed to Gilgeous-Alexander’s leap in his 3-point percentage. Gilgeous-Alexander went from shooting 35% from three during his sophomore campaign to 42% from deep last season.
While re-signing Gilgeous-Alexander is great, it could force Oklahoma City to change its rebuilding approach. Currently, the Thunder are playing the long game by stockpiling draft picks and accumulating assets that can be used down the line.
However, the NBA is currently in an era of disgruntled stars asking for trades from losing situations. As that second contract progresses, star players can become concerned about the team’s ability to contend. The idea of forming a super team becomes more enticing. The extension is a great sign of commitment but contending soon is the key to keeping Gilgeous-Alexander past this new contract.
One way of doing that is by pairing Gilgeous-Alexander with another star. A star could emerge from the young core Oklahoma City already has. Someone like Darius Bazley, who has shown great potential, could assume that role.
Moreover, the Thunder just drafted Josh Giddey, who is a 6’8 guard with tremendous upside.
Despite the pressure this max contract could put on the Thunder’s rebuilding process, and there is a sign of hope. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks' recent championship run provides that light at the end of the tunnel. The Bucks proved that a small market team could win a championship.
Antetokounmpo has signed two contract extensions with Milwaukee throughout his career. Both he and the team were rewarded for their commitment this season.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a proven track record of building contending teams, so Thunder fans should not worry. Gilgeous-Alexander’s contract extension now puts a clock on Oklahoma City’s rebuilding process. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is ‘the Timeline.’
Will Shai Gilgeous-Alexander become an All-NBA player with the Thunder?
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