How Aleksej Pokusevski impacts contract negotiations

Aleksej Pokusevski #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Aleksej Pokusevski #17 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder will be without Aleksej Pokusevski for the start of the 2023-24 NBA regular season. This will alter Mark Daigneault’s rotation to some extent to start the season, but the OKC Thunder should have the depth to overcome this loss to start the season.

An interesting angle from this is Aleksej Pokusevski’s contract situation. This summer, the 2020 first-round pick became contract extension eligible. To this point, the two sides have yet to reach a new agreement, and throughout the summer, no one truly expected them to.

For Aleksej Pokusevski to get extended by the OKC Thunder, it could take the seven-footer agreeing to such team-friendly terms there was little incentive for the 21-year-old not to just bet on himself. Where things get messy is Sam Presti has rarely let players hit restricted free agency; the Thunder typically make up their minds on players’ futures before that point.

How does the lateset Aleksej Pokusevski injury impact his future contract with the OKC Thunder?

The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen Aleksej Pokusevski suffer three injuries in less than a calendar year. After playing some of his best basketball, Pokusevski broke his leg in December, effectively ending his season. After a rehab process and beginning his summer workouts heading into a contract year, Pokusevski broke his arm in July. Now, just two weeks before training camp, the former first-round has suffered a sprained ankle that will sideline him for six to eight weeks.

This season will have a few hurdles for Aleksej Pokusevski, which is not great when you enter a contract year, and with that, a team-friendly pact might become more appealing.

It will be a challenge for Pokusevski to find a groove after missing all of training camp and the beginning of the season, and with the days dwindling on this contract, Pokusevski could come to terms on a more team-friendly deal as the two sides discuss an extension.

The benefit for Aleksej Pokusevski is the fact he is just 21 years old; locking himself into the security of an extension does not limit his earning power, he will still be able to cash in on his third contract if he proves he belongs in this hypothetical second one.

This will be a fun story to monitor all season long, and we could get some clarity on the contract discourse as Sam Presti talks to the media before training camp.

Next. 3 players to step up in Aleksej Pokusevski's absence. dark