BOZEMAN – It’s an extremely important summer for Great Falls native Josh Huestis. The Oklahoma City Thunder did not exercise the small forward’s fourth-year option, so he is now a free agent on the market. But his time with the Thunder has helped him develop.
“(A new contract) would be amazing, obviously getting the first one would be a dream come true and an accomplishment in and of itself,” said Huestis. “But an even bigger accomplishment would be getting the second.”
His first three years in the league were a growing process, but Huestis has seen the NBA’s top talent. He’s played alongside the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, and has excelled on the court. A second contract in his eyes would validate all the hard work he has put in while at Oklahoma City.
“This past year was definitely difficult, but also beneficial because of the fact that every day in practice I got to go against future Hall of Famers every single day and hone my skills,” Huestis said.
The NBA is an extremely difficult career path, and a risky one. There is no job security in the league and Huestis is aware that every day someone is gunning for his spot.
“The job that we have is narrowed down to a few hundred of the best players in the world, and every single year there is more and more people coming into the workforce trying to take your job,” Huestis said. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world.”
There are only about 14 players on every NBA team, making it one of the hardest leagues to stay in. Huestis knows this, but the former first-round pick out of Stanford also knows he has what it takes to play in the NBA.
“Any team that would have me would be happy to see the work that I put in and the effort that I give forth and just the attitude that I bring to the game and put on to the court. I think wherever I do end up, that team would be lucky to have someone that plays as hard as I do,” said Huestis.
The former Great Falls CMR Rustler is not ruling out that he would re-sign with the Thunder. It’s home to him.
“I want to be somewhere where I can help further my career and get an opportunity to play as much as possible. And whether that’s somewhere I may get paid less but gives me that opportunity to get better that’s more important to me,” Huestis said.
With the Thunder not exercising his fourth-year rookie option, Huestis has the opportunity to shop all around the NBA. These next few months he will be waiting for calls to come in from around the league. Then the next step is evaluating each opportunity and hopefully one comes in the form of a contract.
Huestis wrapped up his camps in Montana last week. He called the trip his “getaway” and his summer vacation. It was an escape from the hectic world of free agency, but now it’s time to put his nose to the grindstone.
“(I’m) just going back to work,” said Huestis. “I’m headed back to my place in (Las) Vegas for the summer to continue to train and to keep taking calls and find my next spot, find my next home and get ready for the season.”