Aaron Wiggins

Thunder Notes: Hartenstein, Claxton, Collins, Joe, Wiggins, Giddey, Williams

Following a breakthrough year in which they earned the top seed in the West, the Thunder are in position to address their most glaring need by adding another big man in free agency, writes Keith Smith of Spotrac. Oklahoma City can clear roughly $35MM in cap space, mostly by renouncing the rights to free agent forward Gordon Hayward.

Smith points to Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein and Nets center Nic Claxton as two ideal targets. Hartenstein can contribute on both ends of the court, and he may be easier to obtain because New York is limited in what it can offer. With Early Bird rights on Hartenstein, the Knicks can give him roughly $72.5MM over four years, a figure that OKC can easily top. Claxton would add a shot-blocking element to the team’s already-strong defense, but he’s limited offensively and Brooklyn may be willing to pay whatever it takes to keep him.

Smith lists a few other options if the Thunder decide to pursue a forward rather than a center, such as Pascal Siakam, Patrick Williams, OG Anunoby and Paul George.

If general manager Sam Presti prefers a trade, Smith suggests Jazz big man John Collins, who will make $26.6MM in each of the next two seasons and can be acquired via cap space with about $8.5MM left over. Smith notes that Collins’ contract will expire before OKC has to start handing out extensions to its young players.

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder will likely pick up their $2.2MM option on Isaiah Joe for next season with an eye toward a possible extension, Smith adds in the same piece. Smith also expects the team to keep Aaron Wiggins, either by exercising its $2MM team option and trying to sign him to an extension or turning down the option and hoping to reach a new deal with him as a restricted free agent. Smith sees Lindy Waters III on the “roster bubble,” while the team’s other free agents likely won’t return.
  • There’s a growing perception that Josh Giddey will be traded this summer, but Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman contends the Australian swingman’s struggles were exaggerated. Even though Giddey was benched in the playoffs and saw his minutes reduced during the regular season, Mussatto notes that he has improved his three-point shooting, having gone from 26.3% as a rookie to 33.7% this season. Mussatto also cautions that it might be too early to make a long-term decision on Giddey, who has another year left on his rookie contract and won’t turn 22 until October.
  • Chet Holmgren‘s return from injury cut into Jaylin Williams‘ playing time, but Williams still showed he can be an effective big man in the Thunder’s system, Mussatto adds in a separate story.

Thunder Notes: New Arena, Wiggins, Biggest Need

The Thunder took a major step toward the construction of a new arena. The Oklahoma City city council approved a development agreement with team ownership for a new downtown arena on Tuesday, Jessie Christoper Smith of The Oklahoman reports.

Oklahoma City voters previously overwhelmingly approved a 72-month, one-cent sales tax to fund construction of a new arena at a $900MM minimum cost.

Per the new agreement, the city would first invest $78MM originally meant to be spent on improving the current Paycom Center. Then, the city would spend $50MM contributed by the Thunder ownership, before using a minimum of $772MM via the sales tax.

The city will work with the team on an earlier target schedule, outlining a possible completion of the arena as early as June 2028. City officials often have said they hope to complete the arena ahead of the 2029/2030 season. Thunder ownership can terminate the agreement if the city does not meet the 2030 deadline.

We have more on the Thunder:

  • They have an interesting decision to make involving Aaron Wiggins, who has become a valuable rotation piece. They hold a $1.99MM option on his contract for next season but they could choose to decline Wiggins’ team option in order to make him a restricted free agent. Then, they could sign him to a long-term pact, Rylan Stiles of Sports Illustrated notes, similar to the way they locked up Luguentz Dort.
  • With some key players still on rookie contracts, the Thunder have the opportunity to use their assets and find one more impact player, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. The postseason showed that their most glaring is a secondary play-maker with size, though identifying and acquiring the right player to fill that void will be difficult.
  • In case you missed it, Gordon Hayward was unhappy over his lack of playing time in the postseason.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Giddey, Hayward, Wiggins, Joe

The young Thunder may not quite be ready to win a tough playoff series, but there’s little doubt that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is, writes Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. SGA was at his best in Saturday’s Game 6, scoring a series-high 36 points and hitting numerous clutch shots down the stretch. He also handed out eight assists, the biggest of which was an alley-oop that Chet Holmgren slammed home to give OKC a one-point lead with 20 seconds remaining.

But Gilgeous-Alexander made a critical mistake, committing a foul that sent P.J. Washington to the line for three free throws to decide the series. Washington made his first two shots to give Dallas the lead, then missed the third on purpose to take time off the clock and force Oklahoma City into a long heave on its final possession.

“We talk about it all year, the little things that go into winning games. And being disciplined. It sucks,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of his foul on Washington. “Obviously if I had the moment back I wouldn’t have fouled him and just let him make or miss the shot.” 

At the post-game press conference, Gilgeous-Alexander told reporters that he isn’t interested in watching a replay of the foul. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault challenged the play, which cost him his final timeout, but officials determined that SGA’s contact warranted a foul.

Even if it’s part of the learning process for a team that appears to have an incredibly bright future, the loss was painful in the moment as the players feel like they let an opportunity slip away.

“It’s hard to tell what you remember more, the wins or the losses, but this definitely stings,” Holmgren said. “It doesn’t feel great. Nobody wins 12 straight championships, so the chances I’m gonna feel this at some point again is definitely there. But I’m gonna do everything in my power to avoid this feeling again.”

There’s more on the Thunder:

  • The series highlighted the decision that OKC will eventually have to make about Josh Giddey‘s fit with the rest of the team, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise to an MVP candidate and the addition of Jalen Williams have significantly cut into Giddey’s usage rate, and he doesn’t shoot well enough from long distance to be an effective complementary player. Slater notes that Giddey was replaced in the starting lineup for Games 5 and 6 and didn’t start the second half in Games 2 and 4. Giddey will make $8.3MM next season in the final year of his rookie contract, but he’s extension-eligible this summer and Slater suggests he may be a trade candidate if the Thunder go shopping for veteran help.
  • There may not be a future in Oklahoma City for Gordon Hayward, whose $33.3MM salary will come off the books this summer, Slater adds. The team sent unwanted contracts to Charlotte to acquire Hayward at the trade deadline, but he wasn’t a factor in the playoffs, going scoreless in 46 total minutes.
  • The Thunder have a two-year window to upgrade their roster before future extensions start to kick in for their stars, Bobby Marks of ESPN states in his offseason overview of the team. Marks suggests that general manager Sam Presti might decline modest team options for Aaron Wiggins and Isaiah Joe and try to reach long-term deals with both players.

Thunder Notes: Playoff Adversity, Giddey, Big Lineup, Williams

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault isn’t worried about his team bouncing back from its 119-110 loss to Dallas on Thursday, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City is now facing some adversity for the first time in these playoffs after losing home court advantage in its second-round series.

“Curious, but confident,” Daigneault said. “I’m not sitting here wondering. This is a team that’s made a habit of getting back up. We keep a pretty steady temperament through the ups and downs of the season, and this is just part of the deal. This is just part of the deal. This is the playoffs. Playing against really good teams. These are deep waters. You’re gonna throw some punches, you’re gonna take some punches, and now we’ve gotta eat one, get back to zero tomorrow and be a better team in Game 3.”

We have more on the Thunder:

  • Josh Giddey may need to be replaced in the lineup after two poor outings in the series, Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes. Giddey only played 11 minutes in Game 2 and 17 minutes in Game 1. The team is a minus-27 with him on the court. Aaron Wiggins started the second half of Game 2 in place of Giddey. “It’s basically an in-game substitution,” Daigneault said. “So, I don’t view it any different than checking someone into the game with eight minutes to go in the third quarter. We’re going to keep it fluid.”
  • Chet Holmgren and Jaylin Williams have been used in two-big lineups with some success, Slater adds in the same story. After playing only 92 minutes together the entire regular season, the duo has played a combined six minutes in the series and the Thunder have outscored the Mavericks by nine points during that span. “In both games, it’s given us a nice rim presence, a nice rebounding presence,” Daigneault said.
  • Jalen Williams‘ ascent is detailed in a feature by The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov. The second-year forward hit 42.7% of his three-point tries this season and became a reliable go-to option late in games, with Vorkunov pointing out that only 11 players scored more fourth-quarter points this season than Williams. He’s averaging 20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game during the postseason.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Defense, Wiggins, Williams, Bench

Ahead of Wednesday evening’s MVP announcement, two of the three finalists for the award faced off in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, with Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander outdueling Luka Doncic of the Mavericks, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Doncic, who is still battling a knee sprain, struggled to score efficiently against a Thunder defensive attack led by Luguentz Dort, making just 6-of-19 field goal attempts. Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, racked up 29 points and nine assists and was a game-high +21 in OKC’s 22-point victory.

As Slater notes, neither Gilgeous-Alexander nor Doncic is expected to win this year’s Most Valuable Player award, given that Nikola Jokic is the heavy favorite. But even if Jokic wins, as expected, it’s an open question which star guard will finish as the runner-up. For his part, Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t make it sound as if he’s been eagerly anticipating Wednesday’s announcement.

“If I’m at home (I’ll watch),” Gilgeous-Alexander said, per Slater. “I didn’t know it was (Wednesday).”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Through five playoff contests, the Thunder have allowed just 90.6 points per game, the lowest mark by any team through five games since the 2016 Spurs, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “It’s where we hang our hat every night,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Thunder’s defense. “Especially this late in the season, we know that if we want to win basketball games, that it’s gonna start on that end. Obviously we have some really talented players on that end of the floor, but we also like to do it together and not just rely on those guys.” Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving described OKC’s “endless amount of energy” as an obstacle Dallas will have to overcome to have a chance in the series, MacMahon adds.
  • The Thunder showed off their depth in Tuesday’s victory, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Led by Aaron Wiggins (16 points) and Jaylin Williams (11 points, nine rebounds), Oklahoma City’s bench outscored Dallas’ by a 42-23 margin. Many of the Thunder’s key reserves are on team-friendly deals for next season — Williams is under contract for the minimum, while OKC holds minimum-salary team options on Wiggins and Isaiah Joe.
  • The Thunder haven’t necessarily been viewed as a legitimate title threat due to their youth and lack of playoff experience, as well as their lack of size and rebounding, but each one of their postseason wins serves as evidence that those perceived weaknesses might not matter much, says Zach Kram of The Ringer. As Kram details, Oklahoma City led the NBA in several statistical categories, including three-point percentage, transition scoring, and turnovers forced, and was the only team besides Boston to rank in the top five in the league in both offensive and defensive rating. It’s true that no team this young has ever won a title, but no team as young as the current Thunder has ever been this good, Kram argues.

Northwest Notes: SGA, Wiggins, Jazz, Murray

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — one of leading MVP candidates in 2023/24 — missed his second game of the season on Wednesday against Houston due to a right quad contusion, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

According to MacMahon, Gilgeous-Alexander has been been dealing with the injury for a while — he was kneed in the quad a week ago.

It’s a big game for both teams, but particularly the Rockets, who are trying to win their 10th straight game and stay on the heels of the Warriors for the final spot in the West’s play-in tournament. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, is trying to secure the No. 1 seed — the Thunder currently trail the Nuggets by a half-game.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Third-year wing Aaron Wiggins has been a rotation regular for the Thunder for much of ’23/24, but he was a healthy scratch in Wednesday’s victory in New Orleans. When asked what led to the decision, head coach Mark Daigneault, said it wasn’t in his game plan. He was live,” Daigneault said, per Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). “I just thought with the start we got off to, with the groups that were out there, I just kind of rolled with them. And it kind of drifted him out of rotation and it wasn’t necessarily pre-planned. In fact, I was planning on using him but we were in such a good rhythm.” OKC holds a $1,988,598 team option on Wiggins for ’24/25.
  • The postseason is now out of reach amid a slide down the standings since the All-Star break, but the Jazz are still trying to find ways to motivate themselves as the season winds down, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We might not make a deep run … this year, but everybody has something to play for,” Forward Lauri Markkanen said. “Individually, you’ve got to find it and lean into it. We have to set the standard on how we want to play. We have to come out and play hard and play together, and we have to play with pride.  So I think there is always something that you can do to improve, and we have to do a lot of that as a team.”
  • Speaking of the Jazz, a big part of their recent struggles has been an inept defense, which now ranks dead last in the NBA. As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune writes (subscription required), Utah is the worst defensive team in the league by a significant margin over the past 10 games. While the roster may not be built to be stout defensively, Larsen argues the Jazz should at least be “acceptable” on that end, and they haven’t been, especially lately.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has missed the past two games with an ankle injury, and he missed his third straight contest on Wednesday vs. Phoenix. However, the injury designation changed — according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link), Murray is out with right knee inflammation. The 27-year-old “looked pretty good” as he went through a “lengthy shooting routine” before the game, Wind tweets. That suggests Murray’s injuries aren’t particularly serious, which is certainly good news for Denver.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Prince, Brown, Wiggins

Rudy Gobert understood that the Timberwolves‘ adjustment wouldn’t be easy after shaking up their roster to acquire him from Utah, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Not only did Minnesota give up five players in the deal, the team committed to an entirely different style of play with Gobert clogging the middle and forming a modern-day Twin Towers alongside Karl-Anthony Towns.

Nineteen games into the season, Gobert’s concerns have been proven correct. The Wolves are a game above .500, but they’ve had some ugly losses along the way, including Friday’s at Charlotte, where it’s seemed like the pieces don’t really fit together.

“Each bad game, they’re going to be ready to talk. That’s great. We love it,” Gobert said before the season began. “That’s part of the process. Nothing great comes easy. If it was going to happen in one game, that wouldn’t be worth having. We gotta work hard and work every night to get better.”

After a 5-8 start, Minnesota had strung together five straight wins before Friday. But perimeter defenders have been relying too much on Gobert to bail them out after their man drives by, Krawczynski observes, and the chemistry between Gobert and D’Angelo Russell on the pick-and-roll remains a work in progress.

“Sometimes, you know, passes are tough. Sometimes I fumble it,” Gobert said. “Most of the time, I get it and something good happens. As long as we can keep that trust and I can try to put myself in the right spots for him to find me and whether it’s that pocket pass or that lob, any pass actually, just trusting me.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince suffered a right shoulder subluxation during Wednesday’s game and could miss a week or two, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Coach Chris Finch said Jordan McLaughlin is “more in the day-to-day category” with a left calf injury.
  • Bruce Brown continues to look like a major free agency bargain for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of The Denver Post notes. Brown posted his first career triple-double Wednesday to help Denver pull out a win despite the absence of four rotation players. “Some guys are in the foxhole with you, some guys, like they’ve got one foot in, one foot out,” Malone said. “Bruce is, he’s all the way in.”
  • Thunder guard Aaron Wiggins has the unusual distinction of five starts and five DNP-CDs already this season, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Coach Mark Daigneault explained that it’s a result of having so many young players to develop.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Barrett, Edwards, Holmgren, Thunder

Some teams with interest in Knicks forward RJ Barrett believe they’d have a chance to land him if the Jazz were to acquire him in a Donovan Mitchell trade, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. As Begley explains, while the Jazz are thought to like Barrett, there’s a belief that they’d be open to the idea of flipping him for additional first-round picks if he were included as part of a package for Mitchell.

The Jazz’s potential plans for Barrett may be a moot point. Now that the former No. 3 overall pick has agreed to a four-year extension with the Knicks, the poison pill provision will complicate efforts to include him in any Mitchell trade — the Jazz could still theoretically acquire him, but a third team with cap room may need to get involved to make the salary-matching math work, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted in a video segment earlier this week.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves‘ trade for Rudy Gobert showed that the team is ready to take the next step toward title contention, and the work that Anthony Edwards has been putting in this offseason shows that he’s positioning himself to make a third-year leap to stardom, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. According to Krawczynski, people who have been watching Edwards’ workouts this offseason have all been saying some variation of, “Just wait ’til you see him.”
  • The foot injury that ended Chet Holmgren‘s rookie season before it began probably won’t have a major impact on the Thunder‘s place in the 2022/23 standings, but it will significantly diminish the buzz surrounding the team in Oklahoma City, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. As Carlson writes, many Thunder fans that had been excited to watch Holmgren play are less likely to follow the club closely this year.
  • In a subscriber-only story for Daily Thunder, Josh Haar identifies Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Jalen Williams, and Aaron Wiggins as three candidates to earn bigger-than-expected roles for the Thunder with Holmgren sidelined.

Thunder Sign Aaron Wiggins To Four-Year Deal

7:28pm: Wiggins’ new contract is official, the Thunder announced (via Twitter).

5:34pm: The Thunder will give two-way player Aaron Wiggins a four-year, $6.4MM contract, tweets Shams Charania of the Athletic. The fourth year will be a team option, and the deal was confirmed by Wiggins’ agent, Austin Walton.

Wiggins will receive $1MM for the rest of this season in addition to what he has already earned, Walton tells Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). That means the remaining three years will be worth the minimum.

Next season will be fully guaranteed, but 2023/24 is non-guaranteed. Wiggins is now the fourth highest-paid player from the second round of the 2021 draft, Mussatto adds.

After being selected with the 55th pick, the 23-year-old shooting guard signed a two-way contract shortly after the draft. He has appeared in 31 games, starting 18, and is averaging 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per night.

When the move becomes official, Oklahoma City will have a full 15-man roster with an open two-way slot.

Scotto’s Latest: Bulls, Hawks, Finney-Smith, Thunder, Rockets

The Bulls figure to explore potential roster upgrades at the trade deadline, but they’re resistant to the idea of moving Patrick Williams, Michael Scotto said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast.

If the Bulls want to make a major move at the deadline, it may have to involve Williams, 2020’s No. 4 overall pick, since the club has already traded away multiple future first-rounders. Williams’ ability to help the team this year may also be limited, since a wrist injury is expected to sideline him for most or all of the regular season.

Still, based on Scotto’s reporting, it sounds as if Chicago will likely hang onto Williams. One Bulls player who is available in the right deal is 2019 lottery pick Coby White, rival executives tell Scotto.

Here’s more from the HoopsHype Podcast:

  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari could be had for a first-round pick or as part of a larger package, rival executives tell Scotto. I’m very skeptical any team will be willing to give up a first-rounder for Gallinari unless they can dump an unwanted long-term contract on Atlanta. Scotto adds that execs believe Hawks forward Cam Reddish is more likely than not to be on the move at the deadline.
  • Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams are among the role players on modest contracts who are drawing trade interest from playoff teams, says Scotto. Oklahoma City is obviously more likely than Dallas to be a seller, but rival executives believe there may be an opportunity to poach Finney-Smith since he and Jalen Brunson are free agents in 2022 and re-signing both would likely make the Mavs a taxpayer.
  • Playoff-caliber teams are also monitoring Rockets veterans Eric Gordon and Daniel Theis, according to Scotto. They’ve been mentioned multiple times this season as potential trade candidates, since they probably don’t fit the timeline of a rebuilding Houston squad.
  • League sources tell Scotto that Thunder rookie Aaron Wiggins is a good candidate to have his two-way contract turned into a standard deal at some point this season.