Shai Gilgeous-Alexander knew the day would come when Chris Paul would no longer be his teammate. And after the trades of Paul and Dennis Schröder, Gilgeous-Alexander could have foreseen the departures of Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari.
After all, Gilgeous-Alexander was a centerpiece in the trade that cracked the Thunder’s longstanding foundation. He knew what was coming, because the plan had been made clear. It just took one season, and one wild week of trades, for Oklahoma City’s rebuild to begin in earnest.
And now, as the Thunder enters a new era, Gilgeous-Alexander is the unquestioned face of the franchise.
“Obviously it’s something I’m excited about,” Gilgeous-Alexander said Friday in his first interview of training camp, “and I think I’ve worked hard enough to deserve that responsibility and trust from Sam (Presti), and the rest of the front office and the rest of the coaching staff.”
There’s no indication Gilgeous-Alexander is unhappy with the Thunder’s roster transformation. Quite the opposite. He’s a 22-year-old guard who’s been handed the keys to a team.
“We’re really kind of clearing the way for him to expand his game, to be on the ball full-time,” Presti said. “We’re putting a lot of faith in him and really kind of showing him that he’s a central figure to a lot of the things that we ultimately want to be.
“But that’s not going to be linear. A lot of the other guys that have been…