OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – For the first time as a professional, Josh Huestis won’t know where he will play next year.
In October, the Thunder declined to pick up his fourth year team option meaning the former Great Falls CMR star will enter the NBA offseason as an unrestricted free agent. It’s a precarious position for any role player but in his season ending press availability with OKC media, Huestis was optimistic about the future after a career year.
“If you compare this year to the last three years, obviously it was a big step forward for me,” he said. “Working my way into the rotation, being a guy that sees minutes in big games. So obviously it was a big step forward for me. There were ups and downs for me this year, and it’s not a linear progression, there’s going to be ups and downs. So anyone who thinks it’s always going to be sunshine is kind of crazy.”
Huestis played just seven games in his first two years with the Thunder but cracked the rotation in 2017-18, appearing in 69 contests including 10 starts. He averaged 2.3 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, but was often counted on to provide a defensive spark.
“I walk out of here knowing a lot about myself and my game and what to work on this summer,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be a guy who can be as well rounded as possible. Obviously defense is something I hang my hat on. I always want to get better at that, I think I could be an elite defender in this league.”
It’s offense where Huestis knows he needs to improve. On a team loaded with shot creators like Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony – Huestis rarely scored on anything other than lobs or spot up three pointers.
“Offensively just becoming an even more consistent shooter,” he said. “Being able to put the ball on the floor, decision making, that’s all stuff that I can see myself being able to do. And that will all come with continuing to work on it, and getting more opportunities and more chances to put it into action.”
But it remains to be seen where Huestis will get that chance. Teams will undoubtedly come calling with contract offers, but Huestis expressed a desire to remain the Thunder.
“I’d like to stay in Oklahoma. It’s the only place I’ve known,” he said. “I’ve made a home here.”
NBA free agency begins on July 1, just before Huestis is set to host his annual skills camp in Great Falls from July 9-12.