Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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

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). Per Marks’s projections, SGA will 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 ESPN.com 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 Nuggets.com 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.

14 NBA Players On Canada’s Preliminary Olympic Qualifying Roster

Team Canada has yet to secure a place in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, but the club should have a loaded roster as it looks to lock up a spot in a qualifying tournament next month.

Canada Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 21-player preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifier, and the group includes 14 players who finished the season on NBA contracts. Here’s the full list:

Of the seven players who didn’t play in the NBA this season, one (Bennett) is a former first overall pick, another (Nicholson) was also a first-round selection, and a third (Alexander) has NBA experience. Bell-Haynes has played in the G League, while Doornekamp, Ejim, and Nembhard all have extensive experience representing Canada in past international competitions.

Still, a few noteworthy names are missing from the list. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be able to participate. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also dealing with an injury, announcing on Instagram that rehabbing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot will prevent him from representing Team Canada.

Raptors big man Chris Boucher is a third notable omission. According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Boucher is focused on rehabbing a knee sprain and wants to make sure he’s 100% healthy heading into 2021/22. He also has a somewhat uncertain contract situation — his $7MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, though I’d be shocked if he’s not retained.

Even without Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Boucher, Canada Basketball is in position to run out a roster stacked with NBA talent and led by former NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse.

While the final roster will depend in part on which players are available, none of the 21 players on the preliminary are on teams expected to still be alive for the conference finals. However, a club like Powell’s Mavericks or Barrett’s Knicks could surprise.

Team Canada will compete against Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia between June 29 and July 4. If the club wins that six-team qualifier, it will be part of the 12-team field in Tokyo and would be a legit contender for a medal.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Deck, Mitchell, SGA

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard still hopes to eventually lead the team that drafted him to a title, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. In an interesting bit of trivia, Quick says that Lillard has gone above and beyond in researching what it takes to do this. He has spoken with championship-winning players (including his new teammate Norman Powell, who won with the Raptors in 2019) and coaches with the goal of integrating their wisdom into his title quest.

“I want that more than anything,” Lillard said of winning a title for the Trail Blazers. “Not just to say I won a championship. But I want to do it in this city. I want to have a parade on Broadway and ride past El Gaucho (steakhouse). That’s what I think of. Every time the playoffs [are] starting, I’m going into it like, ‘Is this going to be the year that we shock the world or that we come up big?’

“I mean, I see every year when we get to this point as pivotal,” Lillard told Quick. “Because at every point, it’s an evaluation: Where do we go from here? Like, can we get the job done as we are? And if not, where do we go from here? What is the change that needs to be made? And I don’t know where that change comes from, you know, maybe we … I don’t know if it’s moving players, I don’t know if it’s a coaching change … whatever it is that happens in the NBA, the changes that are made when you look at the postseason and what you consider success and failure, and things like that, and what changes you have to make to improve or give yourself a better chance.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Recently-added Thunder rookie power forward Gabriel Deck hopes to represent Team Argentina in this summer’s rescheduled Olympics, but will remain in Oklahoma City for the next few weeks, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.
  • The top-seeded Jazz will face the Western Conference’s yet-to-be-determined eighth seed when they begin their postseason this weekend, but the health of All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell remains in question, writes Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. Mitchell has been unable to play through a full team practice since spraining his ankle in a 119-111 defeat of the Pacers on April 16. “Whenever he’s healthy, we’ll have him back,” Mitchell’s teammate Joe Ingles said, delivering an expert non-answer.
  • As Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to recover from a foot injury, he is holding out hope that he will be healthy enough to suit up for the Canadian national team in this summer’s Olympic qualifiers, tweets Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman.

Northwest Notes: Morris, Jazz Depth, SGA, Carmelo

Nuggets reserve point guard Monte Morris is nearing his return to the floor, tweets Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Morris is “definitely getting closer” to suiting up again for Denver, head coach Michael Malone said.

Nevertheless, Singer notes that Morris will remain sidelined for the next few games as he continues to rehabilitate from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since April 16.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • With Jazz All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley both absent, Utah has been able to showcase the depth of its roster, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Wing Bojan Bogdanović has become a prime scoring option on the perimeter for Utah, and even greener players like two-way rookie point guard Trent Forrest have stepped up to help the Jazz remain very much in the race for the West’s top seed.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has revealed that star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is still grappling with a “significant” plantar fascia tear, tweets Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman. “It’s not something that you should really mess around with,” Daigneault said. “If we got aggressive with him, it could compromise him long term, which makes no sense for us for a player that is as important to our franchise as he is.” Gilgeous-Alexander has been sidelined since March with the injury.
  • After scoring 14 points in a 123-114 loss to the Hawks, veteran Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony has cracked the NBA’s all-time top 10 scoring list, writes Casey Holdahl of Trailblazers.com“Top 10 in anything of all-time is a special moment, so I don’t want to take this moment for granted,” said Anthony. “I don’t want to downplay it, I’m excited about it, I’m blessed to be able to accomplish this in year 18. I think that’s what people should look at, the fact that I’m in my 18th season.” Anthony has been a productive offensive contributor during his second season with Portland. He will be a free agent this summer.