A Treasure Chest of Assets | SGA & OKC

Updated: July 20, 2021
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A controversial decision is on the table for Oklahoma City. With more picks than any rebuilding franchise in the league’s history, two sentiments have developed around their acquisitions of assets: one being of pure marvel at the war chest of first-round picks they have collected from the Paul George and Russel Westbrook trades with Clippers and Rockets. The other though, is a question: “and so what?” Will the Thunder somehow create a Westbrook-Durant 2.0, or will they end up with a lengthy rebuild that ultimately leads to lukewarm success? 

What may end up defining this path of their progression from rebuild to contender is their decision surrounding their 2-way guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He was the main piece thrown into the PG-13 trade two years back from the Clippers, and with his development and the statistical numbers he’s put up last year, one could argue just Gallo and SGA could have been a better fit around Kawhi without even including the stack of picks which went OKC’s way in the exchange.

There have been talks in Oklahoma, that the Thunder would consider moving Shai if the right deal came along. SGA is only 22 years old and has 1 more year left on his rookie deal lined up for a max extension. The question is one of time. Does Shai’s timeline match up with the future assets they will draft and develop, or would they be better off moving him for a premium to a win-now contender? There is a strong argument for keeping him and build around the two-way guard, and for someone quite high on him since the draft, I am very much in favor of this option. However, even as high some may be on SGA, the likelihood he will develop into a number 1 option on a contender is unlikely. Once he receives his max extension, and the price tag of 28 million per year is attached to his name, his value inevitably will change due to the contract matching necessary to trade for him. At only 5 and a half million currently, he can be exchanged for draft capital without a player of his caliber included. 

Once he is maxed, not only will the salary matching variable change his value, but his 20 points a game will no longer be seen as an overachievement, but it will be expected. We have seen time and time again where players who are viewed as up-and-coming stars become subpar assets or even toxic ones. DLO, Wiggins, Siakam, and Simmons, all prior had tremendous value that diminished once a 28+ million dollar was put into the equation of their overall value as a trade chip. 

There are interesting options like 3 unprotected picks from Boston attach to a few of their C grade rookies, or a box of picks from the Pelicans, but OKC has the stockpile of late projected first-rounders already. The Thunder are in possession of the 6th, 16th, and 18th picks in this year’s draft courtesy of Boston and Miami. Ideally, they would package the Warrior’s 7th pick with the 14th and 16th pick to move up to 4 or 5. This would give the Thunder two top 6 picks in a draft that is presumed to have 6 premium players. 

With Wisemen, the dynamic 19-year-old 7-footer, they would have 3 top-tier young assets to build around all on the same timeline. With this young core able to slowly develop, and 3 picks in next year’s first-round, they would be able to add another top 5 pick to add to this core next off-season. Also, without having to have any max contracts (outside of the Kemba contract) on the books, they would be able to overpay smart and overqualified veterans to surround their young players with to help them develop.

For the Warriors

No one can argue with the fact that Wisemen plus two lottery picks is a huge price for a guard who has yet to make an all-star team, especially with the emergence of young Jordan Poole, who has a similar style to SGA. However, SGA is a unique puzzle piece in this year’s offseason with regards to impact and value. Shai still on his rookie deal, allows the Warriors to add him and actually cut salary if he’s exchanged for James Wisemen. He also hedges on both sides of the board, the win-now, and the future. Although Curry looks like his prime will extend at least for the next 2 years, the idea that he will play 70+ games in an 82-game season is a dubious proposition at best. With SGA, the Warriors’ non-Steph minutes will prove to be far more successful than their current construction. And with his size and ability to play on and off ball, a Curry, SGA, Klay backcourt could be a devasting one. His ability to penetrate with ease and dissect the defense is a weapon that should prove to be overwhelming when paired with the Splash Brothers.


The deal is heavily dependent on OKC’s perception of the young James Wiseman. After his disappointing rookie season, it is difficult to assess any team’s perception of the 7-foot dynamic big with limitless potential and yet very little high-level basketball experience.  On paper, this deal should be able to trump any others made for SGA, since the only reason they would be willing to move him would be for a more linear timeline of their up-and-coming rookies. For those who follow the Warrior’s, and did not watch much of Shai last year, this stack of assets probably looks like an overpay. In a way, it is, because there is a good chance that 5 years down the road Wisemen alone is worth more than Shai or the 7th pick this year ends up having the better career.

In an exchange of this nature, there are always more unknowns than knowns, but one thing is for certain, every team in the league would love to add Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.  There are dozens of 6’6 wings in the oven around the league waiting for their jumper to bake, but SGA’s already has. With the Curry window, a prescription to potential may prove to be the downfall to Golden State’s hopes at their 4th title.  This is the only deal available that is a win-now move and acquires a young up and comer…hence the deep price that it costs to execute it.

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9 months ago

[…] exchange sending SGA to Golden State and Wisemen and the 7th and 14th pick to the Thunder (A Treasure Chest of Assets | SGA & OKC). It is a theoretical trade that I have been pushing for over the last year, which is detailed in […]

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