Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Northwest Notes: Simons, SGA, Gupta, Saunders, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers have talked in the past about Anfernee Simons handling backup point guard duties behind Damian Lillard, but CJ McCollum has often played that role, with Simons spending time primarily at the two. However, new head coach Chauncey Billups seems committed to giving Simons a longer look at the point guard spot, and the 22-year-old says he intends to take “full advantage” of the opportunity, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“I want CJ and Ant to be playing some backup point guard,” Billups said. “A lot of my conversations with (Simons) is about that — him being able to play a lot of backup point guard minutes, you know, running the show.”

The Blazers will be keeping a close eye on how Simons responds to the increased responsibilities, since he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension before the regular season begins. A source tells Quick that Simons’ agent Bill Duffy and the Blazers haven’t yet engaged in discussions about a new deal, but are expected to talk closer to the October 18 deadline.

“I don’t know anything about the extension; I’m focused on the season,” Simons said. “I know it’s a big season for me. So I’m not worried about it. My priority is to go out there and play well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Discussing his new maximum-salary contract extension, Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander called the deal a “dream come true,” but views it as just one achievement to cross off on his long list of career goals, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “I still have 90% of my list, so I won’t stop,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, who added that he feels “150%” healthy after missing the end of last season with a foot injury.
  • When the Timberwolves‘ owners – Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore – spoke to reporters this week, all three stressed that Sachin Gupta is in charge of the basketball operations department and didn’t mention a looming front office search, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean they view Gupta as the long-term solution, the timing may not be right to conduct a full-fledged search with the regular season around the corner, Krawczynski notes.
  • Former Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders is in attendance at the Nuggets‘ training camp this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. As Wolfson explains, Saunders is close with Denver head coach Michael Malone and executives Tim Connelly and Calvin Booth.

Thunder Notes: Favors, SGA, Vaccinations, Krejci, Deck

After being traded from a title contender in Utah to a fully rebuilding team in Oklahoma City this offseason, Derrick Favors admitted on Monday that the idea of not reporting to his new team and/or asking to be sent elsewhere crossed his mind. However, he said he didn’t “want to be that guy,” as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman relays (via Twitter).

Favors likely isn’t part of the Thunder‘s long-term plans, but he’s under contract for another year beyond this season, so the team likely won’t consider buying him out or releasing him anytime soon. As they did with veterans like Chris Paul and Al Horford, the Thunder will likely try to build up Favors’ value as much as they can before perhaps pursuing a trade at the 2022 deadline or next summer.

Here’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who missed the last two months of the 2020/21 season due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, has “no limitations at all” entering training camp, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said last week, according to Paris Lawson of Presti admitted the team took a “conservative approach” to the injury last season in the hopes that Gilgeous-Alexander would be 100% now.
  • Presti also said last week that all of the Thunder’s players are vaccinated against COVID-19, per Lawson.
  • It has now been a full year since rookie guard Vit Krejci tore his ACL, and he said today that his knee isn’t giving him any problems, tweets Mussatto. Krejci was selected with the 37th pick in the 2020 draft, but spent the year rehabbing his injury and didn’t sign his first NBA contract until this offseason.
  • There were rumors in international outlets over the summer that Gabriel Deck, who is on a non-guaranteed contract with the Thunder, might return to Spain this offseason. However, Deck denied those reports today. The rumors are not true,” he said, per Mussatto (Twitter link). “It was always my plan to be here with the Thunder.”

Western Contract Details: Gay, Conley, Graham, Nunn, SGA

Originally reported as a two-year deal with a second-year player option, Rudy Gay‘s new contract with the Jazz actually covers three years, with a third-year player option, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). The full three-year value of the contract, which was officially announced on Friday, comes in at about $18.55MM.

Smith has details on several other newly-signed contracts from around the Western Conference, so let’s dive in and round up some of the highlights (all links are courtesy of Smith)…

  • Mike Conley‘s three-year deal with the Jazz includes some unlikely bonuses and has a partial guarantee on year three (Twitter link). The 2023/24 salary of $24.36MM is only guaranteed for $14.32MM.
  • Devonte’ Graham‘s four-year contract with the Pelicans starts at $11MM and features 5% annual raises (Twitter link). The fourth year salary of $12.65MM is only partially guaranteed for $2.85MM.
  • The Lakers used most of their taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Kendrick Nunn (Twitter link). His deal is worth $5MM in 2021/22, with a $5.25MM second-year player option.
  • The Mavericks used the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Reggie Bullock to a three-year deal worth slightly over $30MM (Twitter link). The contract, which includes a 5% trade bonus, is only guaranteed for $5.45MM (of $10.49MM) in the final year.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Thunder includes a 15% trade kicker (Twitter link).

Thunder Sign Shai Gilgeous-Alexander To Five-Year Max Extension

AUGUST 6: The Thunder have officially signed Gilgeous-Alexander to his extension, the team announced today in a press release.

“We are excited to have Shai representing our organization for many years to come and couldn’t be happier for him and his family,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said in a statement. “He is a tremendous basketball player, but is also a leader that infuses optimism, confidence and collaboration into all of his interactions professionally and personally. We are looking forward to watching his individual growth and the collective development of our team as we continue on our path toward sustainable success in Oklahoma City.”

AUGUST 2: The Thunder and guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have agreed to a five-year, $172MM maximum rookie contract extension, agent Thaddeus Foucher informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

Gilgeous-Alexander will still be on his rookie contract for one final season, and is set to make $5,495,532 in 2021/22. His new deal will kick in for the 2022/23 season. The new contract’s precise value will be contingent on exactly where the 2022/23 season cap lands.

As of this writing, Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to earn $29.75MM, based on the new $119MM salary cap projection for the 2022/23 season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link). SGA would net $39.27MM during the final year of the deal, in 2026/27.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes (via Twitter) that the contract will include a 30% “escalator clause” that could increase the $172MM base of the deal into a $207MM agreement, provided Gilgeous-Alexander is voted onto one of the three All-NBA teams in 2022. Woj adds that there are no early termination options for either side in the new extension.

The 6’6″ combo guard was selected with No. 11 pick in the 2018 draft out of Kentucky and enjoyed an All-Rookie Second Team-caliber debut NBA season with the Clippers. He was the key element in a pick-heavy trade that sent All-Star forward Paul George to Los Angeles, and has since proved his mettle in two seasons with Oklahoma City.

Gilgeous-Alexander, 23, missed most of the 2020/21 season’s second half with a plantar fasciitis injury. When he was healthy, he produced at a high level. The 6’6″ 23-year-old averaged 23.7 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 4.7 RPG in 35 games last year. He posted a solid slash line of .508/.418/.808.

An excellent scorer with room to grow on defense, Gilgeous-Alexander has future All-Star potential. The Thunder were wise to lock him in to a long-term deal, even though the team appears more interested in asset accrual over winning in the short term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Stein’s Latest: Lakers, Thomas, Holmes, Portis, More

Dwight Howard appears to be a strong candidate to rejoin the Lakers, who are also interested in veteran shooters Patty Mills and Wayne Ellington, according to Marc Stein of Substack. L.A. is looking for low-cost options to fill out its roster after the trade that brought Russell Westbrook from the Wizards, and Howard, Mills and Ellington may be willing to accept minimal deals for the chance to play for a title contender.

Given their financial position, the Lakers could have trouble holding onto Alex Caruso, Stein adds. The fourth-year guard has been effective in a bench role during his time in Los Angeles, and many teams are expected to pursue him.

There’s more from Stein:

  • The Celtics are interested in bringing back Isaiah Thomas, who was an All-Star in Boston before being sent out in the Kyrie Irving trade. New president of basketball operations Brad Stevens is a strong supporter of Thomas, who played three games for the Pelicans last season.
  • The Kings are expected to give center Richaun Holmes an offer in the four-year, $50MM range. However, he may do better on the open market after back-to-back strong seasons in Sacramento.
  • Several teams would like to add Bobby Portis, but there’s a belief around the league that he will stay with the Bucks despite their limited resources to re-sign him.
  • The Mavericks are virtually certain to keep center Boban Marjanović, who is a close friend of Luka Doncic.
  • There were some pre-draft trade rumors involving Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but the Thunder still see him as a franchise cornerstone and plan to use their draft capital to build around him. Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to receive a maximum extension on his rookie contract this summer, which would pay him $168MM over five years.
  • John Collins was the top target for the Spurs, who will have about $40MM to spend, but now that he’s expected to stay in Atlanta, San Antonio may shift to restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen.

Trade Rumors: Raptors, McCollum, SGA, Celtics, Wolves

As long as Ben Simmons remains in Philadelphia and Kyle Lowry hasn’t reached an agreement in free agency, league sources aren’t ruling out the possibility of a deal between the Sixers and Raptors that would send Lowry to his hometown via sign-and-trade, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, with several suitors expected to pursue Lowry aggressively in free agency, that doesn’t appear to be a likely outcome for the time being.

According to Fischer, one intriguing trade framework that the Raptors have discussed with the Trail Blazers would involve Pascal Siakam and CJ McCollum. But those talks haven’t gathered any real momentum yet, Fischer cautions.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Although Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s name popped up in trade rumors leading up to the draft, the Thunder never offered him to the Cavaliers in negotiations for the No. 3 pick, according to Fischer, who reports that Oklahoma City only made present and future draft assets available in those discussions. The expectation is that the Thunder and Gilgeous-Alexander will reach an agreement on a maximum-salary contract extension this offseason, Fischer adds.
  • Before agreeing to a deal to acquire Josh Richardson from Dallas, the Celtics also expressed trade interest in Grizzlies wing Kyle Anderson, sources tell Fischer.
  • The Timberwolves, who have long been in the market for a power forward, inquired on Danilo Gallinari before agreeing to send Ricky Rubio to Cleveland, says Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. The Hawks turned down Minnesota’s offer for Gallinari.

Thunder Rumors: Gilgeous-Alexander, Draft, Butler, Arena

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, presenting the Thunder with their first major decision on the point guard since acquiring him in the Paul George trade in 2019. Oklahoma City seems likely to enter into extension discussions with Gilgeous-Alexander if he’s still on the roster later this offseason, but that’s not necessarily a given, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“It’s going to take a f–king lot to get him (in a trade), but he’s no longer impossible to get,” one team executive told Fischer.

As Fischer notes, if the Thunder are open to discussing Gilgeous-Alexander in trade scenarios, that represents a change from the team’s philosophy during the 2020 offseason. At that point, all four teams with top-four picks contacted OKC about SGA and were “quickly rebuffed,” sources tell Bleacher Report.

This offseason, on the other hand, it sounds like the Thunder are even willing to bring up Gilgeous-Alexander in trade discussions themselves. According to both Fischer and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, Oklahoma City offered Gilgeous-Alexander and the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft to the Pistons in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick. That was apparently the “legitimate” offer Wasserman alluded to on Monday, which Detroit turned down.

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • There’s a “strong expectation” the the Thunder will continue to search for ways to move up in the first round, according to Fischer, who says that one possible deal to monitor is a swap that would send the 16th and 18th overall picks to the Hornets for No. 11.
  • There’s a “sense among team officials” that the Thunder and Raptors have also discussed a possible trade involving the No. 4 and No. 6 overall picks, Fischer writes.
  • If the Thunder keep their No. 18 overall pick, Baylor’s Jared Butler could be a target there, according to Wasserman, who suggests that the team may like the idea of adding a “veteran” prospect to its young core.
  • The Thunder’s arena has a new name: Paycom Center. The club issued a press release today announcing a 15-year arena naming rights agreement with Paycom, one of Oklahoma’s largest companies.

Western Notes: Williams, Suns, Blazers, Gilgeous-Alexander

The Suns will look to regroup in Game 6 after losing three straight contests to the Bucks, Dave McMenamin of writes. Phoenix now trails 3-2 in the series entering Tuesday’s pivotal game.

“We got to win one game to put them back on the plane,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “That’s it. And you have to have that determination that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to put them back on the plane.”

Game 6 of the Finals will take place in Milwaukee, meaning a Suns win would allow the team to play Game 7 at home. The club won its first two contests in its own arena before dropping Saturday’s game 123-119.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” Chris Paul said. “We didn’t expect it to be. It’s hard. Coach said it all year long: Everything we want is on the other side of hard, and it don’t get no harder than this.

“So, we got to regroup, learn from this game. But it’s over. We got to get ready for Game 6.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • The Suns have been hampered by defensive issues and ball protection, according to The Arizona Republic. Phoenix struggled in non-Deandre Ayton minutes during Game 5, playing Torrey Craig, Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson when Ayton sat on the bench. The team mostly played Dario Saric in those minutes during the regular season, but Saric suffered a torn ACL in the first quarter of Game 1.
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated examines the current situation between Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers. To this point, Lillard has publicly denied the notion that he plans to request a trade, but he’s also explained the importance of building a contender around him this summer. The Blazers were eliminated by the short-handed Nuggets during the first round of the playoffs this spring. “Right now, I’m not sure what I’m going to do,” Lillard said on Friday. “My intention, my heart has always been set on being in a Trail Blazers uniform for my entire career. But I think over time, you want to win it all. I want to win it all in a Trail Blazers uniform. We all have to be making strides toward that.”
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores why it wouldn’t make sense for the Thunder to trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Gilgeous-Alexander appeared in 35 games for the team this year, averaging 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per outing.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz, SGA

When president of basketball operations Neil Olshey told reporters last month that the Trail Blazers investigated the sexual assault allegations levied in 1997 against new head coach Chauncey Billups and came away confident Billups hadn’t engaged in wrongdoing, he declined to offer any details on that inquiry. Olshey simply asked fans and the media to trust that the team had thoroughly investigated the situation.

However, a new report from Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick of Oregon Public Broadcasting calls into question just how exhaustive the Trail Blazers’ investigation was. According to Wilson and Schick, the attorney for Jane Doe (Billups’ accuser) said the Blazers didn’t contact her or her client.

“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” attorney Margaret A. Burnham said.

The Blazers’ review didn’t obtain information directly from several primary sources, per the OPB’s report. That doesn’t necessarily meant the team’s conclusion about Billups’ involvement in the 1997 incident was inaccurate, but it suggests that the franchise may not have done everything it could to get the full story.

Whether the latest revelation results in any blowback for Olshey remains to be seen, as Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Either way, the fact that the story continues to create PR problems for the club doesn’t reflect well on the Blazers or their head of basketball operations.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Alex Labidou of provides some takeaways on the prospects that the Nuggets brought in for pre-draft workouts on Monday and Tuesday this week. Tuesday’s group included Chudier Bile (Georgetown), Carlik Jones (Louisville), Makur Maker (Howard), MaCio Teague (Baylor), Arnas Velicka (Lithuania), Moses Wright (Georgia Tech). Details on Monday’s group can be found here.
  • The Jazz‘s biggest problems in the postseason were a lack of depth and a lack of versatility, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News, noting that the team figures to face some difficult roster decisions this offseason as it looks for ways to improve.
  • There have been no reports stating that the Thunder are thinking about trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but some writers have put the 23-year-old in hypothetical trades that Oklahoma City could offer to move up in the draft. Responding to those suggestions, Ross Lovelace of Daily Thunder argues that Oklahoma City should be building around Gilgeous-Alexander, not considering moving him.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Presti, Draft Picks, Micic

With the Thunder‘s rebuilding process underway, one definite part of the foundation is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The third-year guard will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, and Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti recently spoke about the possibility of getting something done.

“We have a big conversation that we’ll be able to have with Shai coming up in the offseason,” Presti said, per Bobby Marks of ESPN. “We’re really looking forward to that. His impact on the team was pretty obvious, and we think he’s a very, very bright rising player in the NBA. We couldn’t be more excited about the growth he took, both as a player but also as a leader during the year.”

Gilgeous-Alexander was acquired from the Clippers two years ago in the trade that sent Paul George to Los Angeles. He averaged 19.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his first season with the Thunder and was posting a 23.7/4.7/5.9 line through 35 games this year before being sidelined by plantar fasciitis.

“I thought he helped a lot of our guys improve and put them in position to be successful, and that got much tougher when he wasn’t on the court, which is an indicator that he’s a good player,” Presti said. “That’s what you want.”

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder tied for the fourth-worst record in the league and Presti is willing to be patient with trying to mold the team back into a playoff contender, Marks notes in the same story. Although OKC has plenty of cap space, the team won’t be chasing any of the top names when free agency begins next month. The Thunder have six picks in the upcoming draft, along with trade exceptions worth $27.5MM, $12.8MM, $10.1MM and $9.6MM. “You stick to your principles, you stick to your values, you think in the best interests of the organization long term,” Presti said. “In our case we’re really focused on building a sustainably great team in Oklahoma City. I think good things will happen, and I think we should be optimistic about that and continue to be forward facing with that respect.”
  • Oklahoma City secured a first-round pick by acquiring Kemba Walker from the Celtics, and the Thunder are in position to do it again, Marks adds. He suggests the Nets may be willing to part with the 27th selection to move DeAndre Jordan, who is owed nearly $20MM over the next two seasons.
  • There was talk of Vasilije Micic joining the Thunder next season, but the reigning EuroLeague MVP has agreed to a three-year contract extension with Anadolu Efes, according to Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohooops. The 27-year-old point guard will have an NBA out next summer and in 2023.