In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft and the opening of free agent negotiations, there were whispers that Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti might be looking to trade Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to either add to his sardine jar of future draft picks or move up for a higher pick than OKC's No. 6 selection this year -- perhaps trying to get as high as No. 1 to select Cade Cunningham.
But it never happened, and it would appear OKC is now committed to being in business with Gilgeous-Alexander for the long haul after he agreed to sign a five-year, $172 million max rookie extension, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Gilgeous-Alexander joins Trae Young as the first two players from the 2018 draft class to agree to max rookie extensions. Young agreed to the same deal as SGA on Monday with the Hawks. Both players could end up making an estimated $207 million over the life of the deal if they meet the criteria for the Rose Rule, which is detailed below:
- The player was named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season, or in two of the past three seasons.
- The player was named Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season, or in two of the past three seasons.
- The player was named Most Valuable Player in any of the past three seasons.
Neither Gilgeous-Alexander nor Young has made an All-NBA team to date, meaning they would have to make one of the three teams this coming season to qualify for the higher max (30 percent of the cap).
Luka Doncic, who was also drafted in 2018 and is expected to sign a max rookie extension after the Olympics, has already met the Rose Rule criteria by making All-NBA in each of the last two seasons. Fellow 2018 draft class members Deandre Ayton and Michael Porter Jr. are also expected to sign max extensions this offseason.
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Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the better players in the league that a lot of people might not know a lot about. In his age-22 season, he averaged 23.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds on 51/42/81 shooting splits. He has the whole bag offensively and is one of the most clever finishers in the league. His wrong-footed/long-armed layups are basketball art, and his jumper is far better than people thought it would be coming out of college.
SGA's defense is the opposite of his offense: it isn't as good as people think. You look at him and see his length and hands and think he fits the modern defensive bill, and he does. But he gets beat a lot, and his instincts aren't great. He has defensive upside, but it's his offense that got him paid.