Insider includes surprise name on list of Thunder players set to 'return' next year

The OKC Thunder are currently projected to hold onto one particular player who many believe could be heading out the door this summer.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault talks with his team during a timeout against the Kings on April 9 at Paycom Center.
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault talks with his team during a timeout against the Kings on April 9 at Paycom Center. / BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY

Over the past several seasons, the OKC Thunder have managed to establish themselves as one of the most talented and ferocious up-and-coming teams currently in the association.

Sporting an average age of 25 years old, the expectation is that the majority of this youth-filled core will stay put for the foreseeable future and develop alongside one another into a legitimate championship favorite.

That said, over the past several months, one youngster rumored to be on the outside looking in on a long-term stay in Loud City has been Josh Giddey, a player who, though has shown flashes of brilliance since being selected sixth overall back in the 2021 NBA Draft, finds himself coming off a polarizing and highly inconsistent campaign.

This coupled with the fact that he's now eligible for a contract extension has some suspecting that his tenure with the franchise could come to an end as soon as this summer, with some already constructing escape plans for the Thunder to duck out from his final season under his rookie-scale deal.

However, not everyone is convinced that Giddey will be given the boot this offseason, as ESPN's Front Office Insider Bobby Marks recently penned a piece where, in it, he tabs the 21-year-old as a player he expects to be returning to the team in 2024-25.

Insider tabs Josh Giddey as OKC Thunder player slated to 'return'

Should Marks be correct in his projection, it likely means that the Thunder would have failed to field any trade offers they perceive as fair value for his services or the two sides somehow find a way to come to a compromise on a new deal.

Regardless of how disappointing and inconsistent his season was, throughout his three-year career Giddey has proven to be an incredibly versatile talent who, with his ball handling and court vision, has actually served as a player who takes significant pressure off the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander when defenses zero in on him.

Though Giddey's build of 6-foot-8, 216 pounds more closely resonates with wings and forwards in the association, his play style is more reminiscent of a pure point guard and floor general.

Boasting career averages of 13.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists with a shooting percentage of 46.4, it's evident from the numbers alone that he can make an impact on the hardwood, while the eye test often strengthens such a notion.

Easily the main flaw within the guard's game is his inability to shoot from distance at a consistent rate (career 31.0 percent three-point shooter), and, with an improvement in this area, it's easy to believe that he could take a step up from being considered a rising stud to a legitimate star-caliber player.

However, even without this attribute, Giddey is by no means a talent the Thunder should be hell-bent on trying to rid themselves of and, should they not be able to swap him out via trade this offseason for arguably better-fitting pieces, there are far worse things they could endure than having him return to the team next season as Marks currently projects.