Though he agreed to a five-year, $172 million max rookie
extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder in August, there’s enough
general buzz and recent NBA history to suggest that Shai-Gilgeous
Alexander might not finish that contract in OKC.
In fact, will he even start it? SGA’s extension begins in the
2022-23 season, as he is currently banking about $5.5 million in
his last year with a rookie-wage scale. He also has a 15% trade
kicker for what it’s worth.
Following Chris Paul’s 2019-20 OKC season, which ended in a
seven-game playoff loss to the Houston Rockets in Round 1 in the
Orlando Bubble, the Thunder have compiled a 35-73 record since.
Currently, at 13-23, they’re one of about five or six teams you’d
consider done, even though they’re a five-ish game winning streak
from being in the mix. They’re definitely among the few not
necessarily trying to win in the immediate future, which we’ll get
to later. As a result, SGA’s name has been in trade rumors again,
and it's not the first time. Today, we’ll lay out the paths for
The Case To
This one’s obvious —
SGA is indisputably really damn good. Now, how
good is up for debate, and honestly, we don’t need to
litigate that right this second. If he’s not someone you build
around, he’s someone worth building with; we could keep it at that
and move on with our day here.
Despite the Thunder being 13th in the Western Conference, the
6-foot-6, 180-pound has a legit All-Star case again; this time, he
has an outside shot at actually getting in this time. Sure, only 12
players get in per conference — it should be 15 — but this year of
all years might have several replacements due to COVID and
Through 31 starts, he’s averaging 22.7 points, 5.2 assists and
4.8 rebounds per game. He’s only shooting 41.8% from the field and
28.4% from three, which are cases against him, but he’s really the
primary offensive generator of the club, so it’s even
understandable to a degree.
In theory, you’d expect a lot back for SGA, but the greedy-ass
Thunder already have 19 first-round and 17
second-round draft picks over the next five years. How
many more draft picks do you need?
(What’s that? They just got another pick
yesterday??? Man, whatever. At some point, you need
players. This is no video game,
Plus, why not build around a backcourt of him and Josh Giddey,
who can’t really shoot yet but can do a lot of other things worth
keeping an eye on. Giddey was drafted No. 6 overall this past
summer, so his contract is team-friendly through 2025.
There’s no need to trade SGA if you’re trying to build a good
team at some point, and no reason to keep losing for higher draft
picks when you have more than enough to trade up for who you want.
You even have numerous young players under contractual control
through next season, so you can use them to move up in the
draft as well. You ain’t keeping all 19 of those first-rounders;
that sh*t doesn’t even work in 2K. Trust me, I’ve tried.
The Case to
If, for whatever reason, the Thunder don’t want to build around
(or with) him or don't want his pending massive contract number to
fall on them when it kicks in — or want the ball in Giddey’s hands
more — then that’s how we get here. Maybe you want a different
stylistic running mate instead, or a potential offer for SGA is too
grand to pass on.
You'd imagine to get a package back highlighted by multiple
first rounders, which you could then use to acquire another
complement to Giddey, who would be running the show, if you're
already sold in that being the long-term plan. You'd also still
have enough left over draft capital to trade up for a top pick in
the 2022 or 2023 NBA Draft, or even both. There's a quick pathway
to build a team and be competitive by the middle of the decade, and
maybe SGA's contract kicks in sooner than you'd like.
Or, SGA’s name was reportedly on the growing
Philadelphia 76ers shortlist of desirable trade pieces in
exchange for Ben Simmons. Giddey and Simmons are both Australian,
so people will immediately draw that connection too. For OKC, it
has enough draft picks where a gamble of this sort wouldn’t kill
the team if it didn’t work, and the Thunder are in a market size
where rebuilding would often be commonplace — even though they’ve
been spoiled before this recent era of Thunder basketball.
Furthermore, looking from Philadelphia's perspective, an SGA-Joel
Embiid tandem would be hella fun.
Otherwise, SGA would make sense on teams like Dallas next to
Luka Dončić, or maybe the Indiana Pacers if that’s the Domantas
Sabonis move, though you’d still have to figure out where Caris
LeVert (and possible others) go.
There’s also a fun SGA landing spot — his hometown Toronto
Raptors — if OKC waits until the extension kicks in. You’d think
the Raptors would have to deal Pascal Siakam to make the money
work, but maybe there’s an OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and draft
capital return instead? That would give the Raptors a core of SGA,
Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes and Siakam. Again, all hypothetical,
but that’s why we’re here, ain’t it?
That said, right now, I’d keep SGA and try building around him
and Giddey among others.
Brandon Ingram, James Harden, Victor Oladipo, and D'Angelo
Russell are cautionary enough as reasons OKC should keep SGA around
to be an All-Star in its own organization instead of someone
In that same breath, if I were the Raptors, I’d be kicking the
tires harder than Shawn Michaels kicked Stan — especially after the
season. If I were Dallas, I’d be calling right now just to inquire.
You’d need more in return than Kristaps Porziņģis, but there’s no
doubt that the Mavericks have to do something.
But before all that, rest up, SGA. You, too, KP.