"It's not something that you should really mess around with," Daigneault told reporters Tuesday. "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."
The coach offered a blunt assessment of Gilgeous-Alexander's prognosis after announcing the guard would be out for an extended period of time in late March.
"I don't want to say long term because that's vague, but it's not day to day," Daigneault said. "This is an injury that we now need to take a look at. The other ones were maintenance. This is what we were trying to avoid. This is why we were being so cautious."
Despite that caution, SGA's return is still going to take some time.
It comes at a brutal cost for Oklahoma City, which saw Gilgeous-Alexander begin to make a star turn in 2020-21 while averaging 23.7 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 35 games. The Thunder were never going to contend in the Western Conference this season, but the emergence of Gilgeous-Alexander was a legitimate bright spot for the franchise.
Instead, look for Daigneault to keep doling out additional minutes to Theo Maledon, Svi Mykhailiuk and Ty Jerome.
The sooner SGA returns, the better for Oklahoma City's long-term plans, but with just seven games left, there's no reason to put him back on the floor unless he's fully healed.