Presti: Thunder's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Likely Won't Need Surgery for Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 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)
Mark Black/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti told reporters Thursday that guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may not have to undergo surgery to address the foot injury that ended his season.

After the Thunder launched into a rebuild by trading Chris Paul to the Phoenix SunsGilgeous-Alexander took an even more prominent role in the team's backcourt.

The 22-year-old built on his 2019-20 breakout season, averaging career highs in points (23.7), assists (5.9) and field goal percentage (.508). In a 102-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Feb. 24, he erupted for a career-high 42 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Unfortunately for Gilgeous-Alexander, plantar fasciitis in his right foot brought his year to an abrupt halt. After his absence had extended beyond a month, head coach Mark Daigneault said he had suffered a "significant tear," so the Thunder weren't in a rush to get him back on the floor.

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Daigneault: "It's not something that you should really mess around with. 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 Kentucky product's injury didn't change much for the Thunder. Along with dealing Paul, sending Kelly Oubre Jr. to the Golden State Warriors and shutting down Al Horford midway through the season showed the franchise's priorities. Contending for the playoffs took a backseat to developing the younger players on the roster.

Having Gilgeous-Alexander miss so much time wasn't ideal for Oklahoma City, but it shouldn't be a significant problem for the franchise moving forward, especially given Thursday's news.