As the NBA world turns, drama is always around the corner. It is no wonder one of the league’s largest TV partners is TNT, where their slogan is “we know drama.” The NBA world never sleeps and as stars request trades at an alarming pace, the pressure on teams to find their core and keep them happy is at an all-time high. With Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert shipped out of Utah this summer, all eyes turn to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which offers us a drama lesson.
Players have more control than ever before, and they can demand out at a moment’s notice. Things change on a dime, and it has turned the NBA into a 365-day spectacle. The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of a rebuild centered around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is one of the best young players in the league.
The Thunder have only spent two seasons rebuilding, Gilgeous-Alexander has spent two of his first four seasons participating in the NBA postseason, and is on pace to make his first All-Star appearance this year, but that does not stop the National Media from attempting to push the 24-year-old out of Bricktown.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are going to hold on to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and this entire saga provides a lesson in the drama around the NBA
After the Oklahoma City Thunder leaped up to the 2nd overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, traded multiple future firsts for the 11th pick, and saw the Clippers pick land at 12, the rebuild appeared to be near the end. Bringing in Chet Holmgren, who many had tabbed as the best prospect in the class, an interesting piece in Ousmane Dieng, and a player in Jalen Williams that I believe will make a winning impact right out of the gate. That was just the start of OKC’s successful offseason, Jaylin Williams, with the 34th overall pick is a good flyer, and re-signing Mike Muscala, Lu Dort, and Kenrich Williams allowed the Thunder to pass the offseason with flying colors.
The feeling around the OKC fanbase was something that had been lost for roughly three years. It felt like the OKC Thunder were back. That all came to a halt when Chet Holmgren suffered a season-ending injury at a pro-am in Seattle.
With a loaded 2023 NBA Draft class on the horizon, the temptation is there for the OKC Thunder to shift their sights to tanking this season despite compiling an interesting roster of talent between Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, Tre Mann, Jalen Williams, Kenrich Williams, and the like.
No matter how this season pans out, a miracle run to the postseason or finishing at the bottom of the standings, there should be no rush to put Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the chopping block.
For starters, he is under contract for five years with no opt-outs, and we just saw one of the best players in the sport, Kevin Durant, was not able to force his way out of Brooklyn due to the number of years left on his deal and other teams not being able to match his market value.
Gilgeous-Alexander has also in no way expressed a desire to leave Oklahoma City, from saying he is excited about the team’s future at his end-of-season media availability, to organizing a team mini-camp this offseason as the leader of the franchise, You can expect during Monday’s Media Day that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will once again assure the fanbase of his commitment to OKC. At some point, we have to believe players and not made-up sources, or other fanbases’ dream scenarios.
This is a key lesson everyone around the NBA has to learn. As much as we all love the off-the-court drama, drinking it up like cold water after a week’s stay in the Sahara Desert, we do not need to manufacture drama. The NBA has plenty of it to keep us full.
In the NBA, do not go looking for drama, because drama will eventually find you.