The Oklahoma City Thunder acquiring Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in 2019 changed the future of the franchise, as Russell Westbrook would leave the only team he ever knew and won an MVP with. Shai has blossomed into the All-Star caliber guard the Thunder had hoped for, but he has been linked in trade rumors to the New York Knicks.
OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti, the architect behind the Thunder rebuild, has reiterated that he will not be trading Shai or Luguentz Dort after signing them to extensions, as they are a crucial part of the long-term future of the team. That future is a few years away, but Presti imagines Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren to be a part of that future as well.
“The only reason we're talking about it is because another player on another team got traded. The aggregation machine is empty now, so we need a little more content. No one is out to try to disrupt the Thunder or create problems for the Thunder. It's just this is the business we work in. You shouldn't be surprised by that because there needs to be content. It's a business."
“We have a pretty long runway with this particular team. Shai is just entering pre-prime years. Josh, Chet, some of the other guys we have, are still a few years away from getting to that point. But at some point here in the near future, you're going to have those tenures overlap, so to speak, and that's extremely exciting when you think about the progress that the guys have made.” (h/t The Norman Transcript)
Should Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Want Out Of OKC?
The purpose behind the Thunder's roster construction has been to tank for the best possible draft pick every season. Through 2 drafts, their pick has led to the arrival of future franchise players Josh Giddey and Chet Holmgren on the team. However, Shai has been benched towards the end of the season both years to ensure he can't improve OKC's record.
This has been a controversial strategy, and many have used that to justify why Shai would want out of OKC. Those people have failed to understand Shai's injury history and how he has dealt with injuries every season. He is aware of his development and endorsed the project when he signed a contract extension with the team.
OKC is going to continue developing Shai, as well as the other young players on the roster, as they get closer to becoming a contending squad every season. If they can't improve over the next few years, Shai can think about leaving towards the end of his contract.