NBA media day 2022: OKC Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives injury update

It only took about a minute for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to walk it off.

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard tweaked his left knee during a recent workout and felt some discomfort, although it wasn’t enough to make him hit the panic button. Gilgeous-Alexander finished his workout and felt fine when he went to bed later that night.

But the fifth-year pro felt soreness in his knee when he woke up the next morning, and he had an MRI soon afterward.

The Thunder announced Wednesday that Gilgeous-Alexander suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee. The injury will keep him from starting training camp, which begins Tuesday.

“I feel a lot better,” Gilgeous-Alexander said during Monday’s media day. “I’m headed in the right direction, for sure. In terms of a timetable, I don’t know. We’ll see in the next couple of weeks. But I’m feeling better.”

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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said during Media Day on Monday that he traveled abroad.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said during Media Day on Monday that he traveled abroad.

The injury is an unfortunate end to an eventful offseason for Oklahoma City’s 24-year-old guard.

Gilgeous-Alexander wasted little time touring the world following the end of the 2021-22 season. One of his first stops was Paris Men’s Fashion Week in June.

Gilgeous-Alexander had front row seats to view the spring 2023 collections of labels such as Givenchy and Louis Vuitton, but he didn’t stay on the sideline for long. Gilgeous-Alexander made his runway debut during Thom Browne’s Spring/Summer 2023 fashion show.

Gilgeous-Alexander sported a black pinstripe blazer with a white cropped shirt and a black bow tie. He completed the look with a black woven anchor that dangled from the middle of his face.

“Fashion is kind of like my game outside of the game,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “It’s something that I like doing and I have fun doing. It kind of gives me another way to express myself.”

Gilgeous-Alexander returned to his main game after the runway appearance.

The Toronto, Ontario, native suited up for Team Canada in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers. His strongest performance came July 1, when he erupted for 32 points in a 95-75 win over the Dominican Republic.

It was a moment of pride for Gilgeous-Alexander, who was unable to play for Team Canada last offseason due to injury.

“Representing my country is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I’m glad I got to, and I can’t wait to do it going forward.”

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Gilgeous-Alexander kept hooping in the U.S. as well.

He competed in multiple pro runs, including one against the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Evan Mobley. A clip went viral on Aug. 30 of Gilgeous-Alexander getting the 2022 Rookie of the Year runner-up to bite on a pump fake before sinking a scoop layup.

“His regimen in the summer is impressive,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “It's no surprise that he comes back better every year. He's just going to start scraping the beginning of his prime, which is exciting to think about.”

Aside from the viral clip, Gilgeous-Alexander’s name also circulated on Twitter for another reason.

The guard was named as a trade target for multiple teams such as the New York Knicks following a season in which he averaged career-highs of 24.5 points and 5.9 assists per game.

But the rumors mean little to Gilgeous-Alexander, who is focused on suiting up for the Thunder this season once he becomes fully healthy.

“Honestly, I don't pay attention to the NBA media stuff and what gets tweeted and what circulates around the web,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I try to stay focused with what I've got going on, me getting better, the guys that are on the team.

“I just try to be a better team next season, a better player next season.”

Here's what else we learned from Thunder Media Day:

OKC Thunder: Seven questions heading into NBA training camp

Forward Jaylin Williams, a rookie out of Arkansas, poses for a portraits at Thunder media day on Monday.
Forward Jaylin Williams, a rookie out of Arkansas, poses for a portraits at Thunder media day on Monday.

OKC Thunder media day 2022: What players and coaches said

Mark Daigneault

On the team: "Our players had a tremendous offseason. I think a lot of guys got a lot better, really committed and disciplined."

On the shooting of Josh Giddey: "He's been a very impactful player for a long time with his existent shooting skill. That being said, he's worked very hard at it, and I think he's better. We're confident it's going to continue to improve."

On players participating in games during the summer: “They have to play. They have to play for a lot of reasons. We encourage them to do that, especially after summer league.”

On the addition of shooting coach Chip Engelland: “Sam (Presti) and I sat down with him as soon as he left San Antonio, and that was the first time I met him. He has a pretty special set of intangibles as a person. We think he'll be impactful.”

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

On his recovery from a Grade 2 left MCL sprain: “I feel a lot better. I'm headed in the right direction, for sure. As far as the time table, we’ll see in the next couple weeks.”

On playing for Team Canada: “It was fun. I got to play with some guys I grew up with. Just representing my country is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

On being named in trade rumors: "Honestly, I don't pay attention to like the NBA media stuff and what gets tweeted and what circulates around the web. I try to stay focused with what I've got going on, me getting better, the guys that are on the team."

On his advice to Chet Holmgren as he recovers from a season-ending foot injury: "You really can just control what you can control. It's part of the game unfortunately, and all you can do is try to be better afterwards. His mindset and where he's at now, I'm almost certain he'll do so and be a better player after the injury."

On his fit with Holmgren: "For the time that we got to play together, it seems like it was a good fit. I honestly believe he'll fit in any game and any system because he's so talented."

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Derrick Favors

On his role with the team: "Right now, the role Coach (Daigneault) and Sam (Presti) want me to have on this team, that's what I'm going to do. (I'll) come in and do what I need to do and just be supportive of the team and do what I can to help the team win. We'll see where it goes from there."

On how he adapts as the game changes: "I just keep things simple. I come in, I play my game. Whatever the coach, whatever the team needs me to do, I do it. And I try to show that I can do different things, too, whether it's guarding on the perimeter or playing out of the high pick-and-roll, high post area, just doing little different things."

On being a mentor for younger players: "I think they treat me like a big brother type. I'm not 19, 20, 21, so I can't really relate to what they've got going on now. I have kids and things, and I'm 31... I think I bring a certain type of calm presence to the team."

Lu Dort

On signing a five-year, $87.5 million contract: “I appreciate this organization just to trust me. I feel like I’ve grown so much being here. I'm just happy to be here for the next five years.”

On what part of his game he worked on the most this offseason: "I kind of focused on my whole game. One of the things I feel like I had to improve on is my decision making going to the rim."

On his favorite part of the offseason: "I spent most of my time back home in Canada, Montreal. Just great to be back around my family. I don't get to go home that often. I was able to stay home, and I had a great setup there to do my rehab."

Kenrich Williams

On signing a four-year, $37.2 million contract: "I was definitely extremely grateful and blessed just to be valued by the organization, by the Thunder, to be able to be here with the guys and grow with these young guys. I was celebrating with my family, my wife and my mom, just being around them. Just pretty much speechless. Whenever something like that happens, I just give all the praise and glory to God."

On why he wanted to resign with the Thunder: "It's just the organization, the whole organization from top to bottom. Front office, the coaches, the players, the city, everything about it. I get a good peace of mind. My family is happy here, as well."

On what it takes to be successful off the bench: "You have to be selfless. You have to kind of put the team first. You've got to know your role. I think that's the most important thing. For me, with this team coming off the bench, I'm expected to bring some energy, so I make sure I try to do that every game."

Aleksej Pokusevski

On getting stronger this offseason: "I was working out. I was putting some weight on. I think I got better there. I hope it's going to show up during the season."

On Holmgren: "He's in the weight room working out, getting better. He's young. He's going to have his time in this league, for sure. I'm happy for him that he got drafted. We can always talk to each other and be there for each other. I can't wait for him to get back."

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Mike Muscala

On being from the same state (Minnesota) as Holmgren: "I had heard so much about him being a great young player through social media and everything, but just to be able to work out with him and be back home, it's fun to share that with him."

On being a veteran on a young team: "It's a different generation, but it's fun. They keep me feeling young in a basketball sense, and they're great guys. You can tell they love the game, they're nice people and they're competitive and they work hard. They're younger, but they're just still fun teammates to be around."

On why he enjoys playing for the Thunder: "It's the people in the organization and the city that make it for me. I feel like the people within the Thunder organization are smart and hardworking and just nice, creative people that are fun to go to work with. The fans and the people in the city just seem really nice."

Darius Bazley

On why he changed his jersey number to 55: "I just felt it was time for a change. I think this summer was very different for me. There's a lot of changes that have happened, and I wanted to go back to a number that I've worn before."

On what makes him a strong shot blocker: "It's more instinct than anything, just like timing a guy up. Honestly, it just depends. It's probably more exciting if someone is trying to dunk on me and I block it. But I like blocking someone's jump shot, as well, too, just because it makes you feel small."

On if he plans to release any more music: "No."

Josh Giddey

On his relationship with Engelland: "Being a better shooter wasn't something I shied away from. It was something I owned and knew I needed to get better at, and there's no one really better to work with than Chip. Ever since he's been here, we've been together pretty much two, three times a day in the gym working out."

On how to avoid a sophomore slump: "Being an NBA player there's a lot of distractions. There's a lot of outside noise, things like that. If you can limit that, the external noise, it really helps you as a player. The offseason was really good for me. There's a lot of things I had to get better at, and I think we did make some jumps in different areas. I'm excited to hit the ground running."

On attending Oklahoma football's game against Kansas State: "It was good to be able to go to the game. It was good to connect a bit before training camp and the season starts. I've become a big, big football fan over the last 12 months. I've been to a few Sooners games now, so I definitely love football. I spent a lot of time yesterday sitting on the couch watching Sunday football, so I'm becoming a big fan."

On his favorite NFL team: "The Chiefs. Jeremiah (Robinson-Earl) got me on them, so I'm a Chiefs fan."

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Theo Maledon

On his slow start to last season: "I think just me starting the season bad put me out of the rotation, so I think a big part was on me. I think I kept working, I kept my head down and trusted in the process. Towards the second part of the season, I had a little bit more minutes, and I think I was able to prove what I was able to do on the court."

On playing for the French national team this offseason: "It's always an honor to play for your country, so I went there with a lot of expectations. I think it's a really great, competitive country with high expectations, so it was great to be in that environment."

On playing for a roster spot: "I don't think we pay attention to that. I'm just going out here and trying to compete as much as possible, get better as a team and individually, and whatever happens happens. But I'm just trying to not put my mind into that and just go out here and compete."

Tre Mann

On getting stronger in the offseason: "That was the main focus, get stronger, getting bigger, putting some more weight on. But the biggest thing for me was eating the right things, eating three meals a day and then taking my protein at night."

On what part of his game he hopes to improve: "Just playing more efficient, whether that be shooting, playmaking or making the right reads. Just playing more efficient this year."

On improving his playmaking this offseason: "My trainer did a good job with that by trying to put me in game-realistic situations the best he could. He was creative, came off of screens when I had three guys guarding me, trying to make the best read and as quick as possible because you don't really have a lot of time."

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

On how his role changes following Holmgren's injury: "I don't know how it's going to change or how the role is going to be, but we're just preparing for the most difficult situations. Nobody thought we were going to draft Chet and then he gets hurt. Nobody wanted that to happen. I think we're just preparing for any situation to come."

On what part of his game he worked on this offseason: "I tried to take a big jump in just keep making open shots, just keep shooting the ball. I felt like last year I shot it well, had a high volume of that. And a big aspect of this year is just being able to bring some leadership to the floor. I feel like we're a really young team, so (I'm) just having to be someone who can be a loud communicator out there on the floor and bring everybody together."

On his foot injury: "My foot is 100 percent. It's all good."

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Aaron Wiggins

On returning for his second season: "I definitely feel a little bit more comfortable. I know what I'm doing, and it's definitely more like an at-ease type of mindset than it is as a rookie."

On competing for a roster spot: "It's got to be competitive. Guys are going to be really gritty, really aggressive to kind of prove themselves. Everybody has something to prove. I think it calls for a very competitive training camp. It'll be a fun one."

Vit Krejci

On bouncing back from a knee injury: "I spent a lot of time during the summer getting the confidence back because after the season I had that little cleanup on the knee. After that, it was all about just getting the confidence back and the quickness back. I made sure that once the season started I'm confident with every single move I make, so it definitely feels really good."

On playing with the rookie class in the offseason: "It's awesome to play with these guys. Everybody can do so many different things. Everybody is very versatile, and everybody wants to play on the team. It's been really fun. I didn't really have that much time, that much games, but I'm looking forward to getting to know them more and being on the court with those guys."

Ousmane Dieng

On who he molds his game after: "I don't think I'm modeling my game on somebody. I'm just trying to take some move or everything from everybody, like KD (Kevin Durant), Paul George and all the big players."

On his biggest strength: "I think I'm really versatile. I can do a lot of things. I just want to help the team to win."

On what he hopes to improve on: "I think I have to do a lot of things. My physical is a big part, and keep improving on my shot."

Jalen Williams

On scouts having doubts about his defense: "People just really didn't look a lot into my story, just being from a smaller school. But defense for me was how I got to start my freshman year... It was just motivation for me during the Summer League to kind of look forward to it, something that I kind of took personal a little bit."

On comparing his game to Gilgeous-Alexander: "It's cool that he's my teammate. I'm just really looking forward to seeing how he operates. He's been in the league for a minute now. I'm also just looking forward to being with everybody on the team, kind of picking up different things that everybody does."

On his goals as a rookie: "It's just a day-by-day thing. It's really hard to give you a great answer on that with not even having a training camp. I think the one thing that's just going to be constant for me is kind of going out there and playing hard every game, something that I do every time anyway. Just going out there and competing. I'm looking forward to learning with the young group."

Lindy Waters III

On what part of his game he focused on improving this offseason: "The biggest thing for me was conditioning and also strength. Being able to guard multiple positions as well as just run around, coming off screens and trying to outrun my defender. If I can get him tired and take him out of the play, it opens up the court for Shai, Lu, Giddey and all those guys."

On the most underrated part of his game: "Maybe opening up the court for my teammates. Everybody knows that I'm a deadly shooter, so you can't leave me open. That takes one less guy out of the paint for everybody else. I think that's very underrated."

On giving back to the community with team events: "Just growing up, we didn't get that opportunity. The Thunder didn't get here until 2008. So the years prior, we didn't have anything. For us to be out there for the community, to inspire the kids and the youth, it's huge. It's one of our main goals."

Jaylin Williams

On deciding nicknames with Jalen Williams: "It was like within the first hour or two of us getting here, like right after we got drafted we decided on what we were being called. It worked out perfectly. I got called J-Will by my family and friends and he got called Dub by his family and friends, so it just worked out."

On being one of the final players to wear the No. 6, which has been retired by the NBA following the passing of Bill Russell: "It's an honor. When I was picking the number, it wasn't that big of a number. I just asked my dad which number he thought was better. Now that there's a great meaning behind it, we're wearing it on our jersey and it's an honor just being able to represent the number. It's really cool at the same time."

On who has the best hair on the team, not including himself: "Shai. I like Shai's hair. He's got the little braids."

Eugene Omoruyi

On seeing Oklahoma City Blue players work their way up to a spot on the Thunder: "It means a lot, definitely. Especially talking to Lu and talking to other guys that have been through that, it means a lot. It just allows for me to know that the work I put in will definitely get rewarded with the success I have."

On the advice of Lu Dort and Aaron Wiggins, who both played for the Blue: "They just keep telling me to do me, do what I do, do what got me here and expand on that and just continue growing as a player. That's what I'm doing, coming into the gym every day working and continuing to put myself in that position."

On why he chose the No. 97: "Yeah, '97 is my birth year. My friends are called the '97 boys. We were born in '97, the three of us. I know they wanted to make it to the NBA. They had dreams and aspirations just like I did. So playing under the 97 definitely means a lot to them and me also."

OKC Thunder preseason schedule

Oct. 3: at Denver, 8 p.m.

Oct. 5: vs. Dallas, 7 p.m. (at BOK Center in Tulsa)

Oct. 6: vs. Adelaide, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9: vs. Maccabi Ra’anana, 6 p.m.

Oct. 11: at Detroit, 6 p.m.

Oct. 13: at San Antonio, 7 p.m.

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This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC Thunder: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander injury update from NBA media day