Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder Agree to 5-Year, $172M Max Rookie Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2021

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Black)
AP Photo/Mark Black

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is both the present and the future franchise player for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That was made even more clear Monday when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the guard agreed to a five-year, $172 million maximum rookie contract extension with the Thunder.

ESPN's Bobby Marks provided a breakdown of the deal:

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

Breakdown of the contract:<br><br>2022/23- $29.75M<br>2023/24- $32.13M<br>2024/25- $34.51M<br>2025/26- $36.89M<br>2026/27- $39.27M <a href="https://t.co/4F1qLnlvqW">https://t.co/4F1qLnlvqW</a>

The timing of the deal is particularly notable considering Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman reported before the draft that the Thunder attempted to trade Gilgeous-Alexander and the No. 6 overall pick to the Detroit Pistons for the No. 1 pick and the presumed opportunity to select Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham.

Alas, that did not happen, and Oklahoma City chose Josh Giddey with that No. 6 pick.

It appears as if Gilgeous-Alexander will be with the Thunder for the foreseeable future as he looks to lead the franchise he joined as part of the trade that sent Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Gilgeous-Alexander played just 35 games in 2020-21 due to a tear in his plantar fascia, but he was in the middle of a career season prior to the injury.

He averaged 23.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field and 41.8 percent from three-point range. The improvement in his outside shooting after he shot 34.7 percent the previous season was the most encouraging sign for someone with enough athleticism and quickness to blow past defenders in the half-court or in transition.

The University of Kentucky product is also just 23 years old and figures to anchor the Thunder as they look to write their next chapters in the post-Russell Westbrook era.

If Gilgeous-Alexander builds on what he showed last season and continues to improve throughout the life of this contract extension, Oklahoma City could be in position to win its first playoff series since the 2015-16 campaign at some point with him leading the way.