OKC Thunder: GM Sam Presti dismisses Shai Gilgeous-Alexander trade talks

·4 min read

Sep. 22—Speculation surrounding Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's future with the Thunder increased following the Donovan Mitchell trade that sent the three-time All-Star to Cleveland last month.

Gilgeous-Alexander has been the subject of rumors since the Thunder's rebuild began during the 2020-21 season. The fifth-year-guard has continued to put up borderline all-star numbers despite the Thunder's decline in the Western Conference standings.

On Thursday, Thunder general manager Sam Presti dismissed that speculation.

"The only reason we're talking about it is because another player on another team got traded," Presti said. "... 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 need attention. The attention drives advertisements. Advertisements drive salaries, and that's how it works."

With Gilgeous-Alexander entering the first year of a five-year, $172 million deal, it's easy for Presti to shut trade talk down. But if the team continues to lose, the noise will only grow louder. Several recent trades in the NBA have included high-caliber players that are under contract for several seasons.

However, Presti seems persistent in keeping the Thunder's young core intact and believes that the trio of Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren and Josh Giddey will blossom together.

"We have a pretty long runway with this particular team," Presti said. "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."

The vision for the future is clear for the Thunder, though things can change. Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, has been ruled out for the season after suffering a Lisfranc injury during a Seattle Pro-Am game. Instead of being able to play with Gilgeous-Alexander and the Thunder's young players, the 20-year-old will spend the year rehabbing a serious injury.

Holmgren's injury also added to the speculation on Gilgeous-Alexander's future. But according to Presti, the Thunder are moving forward with Gilgeous-Alexander in the team's long-term plans.

Tip-ins

—Injury update: The Thunder reported Wednesday that Gilgeous-Alexander suffered a Grade 2 left MCL sprain and will miss at least two weeks. Presti said he doesn't have a timetable for when he will return to the court. With the regular season starting next month, Gilgeous-Alexander's availability for the season-opener in Minnesota is in question.

—Memories of Seattle: During his press conference, Presti spoke about the NBA expanding to Seattle, Washington. The Thunder were originally the Seattle Supersonics before the team was moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.

"I do think it's important to recognize also that Seattle is an incredible place. It's an incredible city. They will have a basketball team again, and I think all of us here are like that's a positive thing," Presti said. "We're hopeful that happens because it's a great place, great fans, and the arena that they've built there, it's spectacular. So when it happens, it's going to be great."

—Staying loyal: Presti said that negotiations with Lugentz Dort, who signed an extension with the Thunder this summer, happened because of Dort's commitment to staying in Oklahoma City for the long haul.

—New arena: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt mentioned during his State of the City address back in June that the Thunder will likely need a new arena in the future in order to secure the long-term future of the franchise.

When asked about concerns over a new arena being publicly funded, Presti said that all opinions from the Oklahoma City community should be listened to and that hopefully a conclusion can be drawn that will keep all sides happy.

Clemente Almanza is a sports reporter intern for The Transcript. You can reach him via email at calmanza@normantranscript.com or on Twitter @CAlmanza1007