The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of a seemingly interminable rebuild. Still, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA ) has no plans to abandon the ship. During this week’s NBA Media Day, the star guard spoke about the ubiquitous speculation that SGA would want out of the franchise, which has had little luck accumulating winning seasons in recent years.
“I know what I signed up for when I signed a five-year extension,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. The 24-year-old signed a five-year, $172 million extension with the franchise in August 2021.
Gilgeous-Alexander also expressed his belief in his teammates and said he expected the team to be where they want to be in terms of on-court success “soon.”
Oklahoma City Thunder star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander reiterated his commitment to the franchise on NBA Media Day.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were hopeful that it would be this season as the young core finally started to take shape. Those dreams were likely dashed when No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren suffered an injury during the offseason, one that will sideline him for the year and delay the Thunder’s contention timeline.
Oklahoma City Thunder has a checkered history when it comes to keeping its stars in the isolated market. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook were part of the golden age of Thunder basketball, but all eventually found themselves elsewhere in recent seasons-only Westbrook appeared to be out of his prime upon leaving.
Gilgeous-Alexander appears to have found a home in Oklahoma City, though. He has emerged as a bonafide star after three seasons with the team, averaging at least 19 points per game in each of those campaigns. He averaged a career-high 24.5 points and 5.9 assists per game in 2021-22.
While the health of Holmgren will be a big factor in the progression of the rebuild, SGA’s health is worth monitoring too.
He missed the last couple of months of the past season with an ankle injury. The year before, he lost a majority of games to a plantar fascia injury. Gilgeous-Alexander’s declaration of loyalty to the Thunder isn’t likely to quiet the rumors either, which are always running rampant in the NBA. In the days since his comments, rumors about the Toronto Raptors monitoring the player’s status have cropped up.
For now, Thunder fans should be less concerned with SGA’s long-term future and more concerned about his immediate future. While he has recuperated from his ankle injury, he recently suffered an MCL sprain during a workout. No timetable has been established for his return, although he’ll likely miss at least the start of the preseason.
Even if Gilgeous-Alexander is back for the start of the regular season, it’s hard to envision this team contending for a playoff spot yet. The young core is still working itself into being ready to battle with the best teams in the league.
There’s a reason they were in a position to draft Holmgren in the first place. But in a couple of years, the Thunder should be in a similar position to where they were a decade ago, when Durant, Harden, and Westbrook came of age and the Thunder were suddenly a team capable of reaching the NBA Finals. When that time comes, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plans to be there.