Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a rising star in every sense of the word. He has ascended to exclusive heights on the basketball court, and has become a fashion icon off the court. In a recent interview with GQ Magazine, Shai discussed everything from fashion to his pursuit of being one of the NBA's greats.
One of the topics discussed in this interview was Shai's departure from Los Angeles. After a promising rookie season with the LA Clippers, Shai was dealt to Oklahoma City in exchange for Paul George. The Clippers front office admittedly never thought they would trade him, and Shai never though he would be traded.
When asked about that experience, Shai told GQ that "It didn’t really sting... But it was surprising. It showed me at the end of the day, the NBA is a business. That’s what it comes down to. My job is to play basketball. That’s what I get paid to do, right? Whatever city that’s in, it won’t matter. I’m just blessed it’s in OKC.”
Despite the initial shock, Shai has already cemented himself as the future of the Oklahoma City Thunder. After a dominant third season in the league, Shai and OKC agreed to a 5-year / $172M contract extension, that could increase to over $200M if Gilgeous-Alexander were to make an All-NBA team.
The extension was more than warranted, because before Shai suffered a foot injury that cut his season short, he was on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average 23 PPG on 50% from the field and 40% from deep before age 23. That is how good he already is.
While Paul George has already helped lead the Clippers to their most successful season in franchise history, the organization's pressure to win a championship in the next few seasons is only magnified by the ascension of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If the Clippers are able to win their first title in franchise history with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, then the 2019 trade will have worked out perfectly for all parties involved.
In the meantime, Shai is going to continue his pursuit of greatness.