Diallo has already been introduced to the business of the NBA

Kentucky freshman guard Hamidou Diallo reacts after a three-pointer during the game against Kansas State in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky was defeated 61-58. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

The NBA is sometimes known for being a business with all the trades and tough decisions that affect players, and one of UK’s newest professionals learned all about that at the most recent draft.

Hamidou Diallo, guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder who recently signed a three-year contract, originally was picked by the Brooklyn Nets with the 45th pick of the draft, in his hometown.

However, Diallo would not stay with the Nets for long, as he was one of the many players in the second round traded to another team.

“I was taking pictures in my Brooklyn hat and then my agent came and told me that I’m probably going to be traded to the Thunder but it couldn’t go through till July 6, so I’m sitting there like ‘What?’” Diallo said while he was back in Lexington for John Calipari’s Draft Academy.

The Thunder did not make the announcement that they had acquired Diallo until July 6, meaning that he technically did not have an NBA home for two weeks.

As a result, Diallo was not allowed to practice with his new teammates as they got ready for the 2018 NBA Summer League.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to get out there (in Summer League) because of all the rules and stuff like that,” Diallo said.

Diallo did end up getting to play in the Summer League and just a day after officially joining the Thunder, in just his second game, Diallo had a big time performance of 19 points on 7-11 shooting to go along with eight rebounds.

Diallo led all scorers on the court against the team that had originally picked him in the draft just two weeks prior. Diallo would go on to average 10.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in five Summer League games.

“For me that was my first time playing in an NBA game so I just think the pace is way different and the spacing on the court is way different compared to college,” Diallo said.

Diallo’s Summer League stats helped him land a three-year, $4 million contract with the Thunder at the end of July. Diallo considered the contract a blessing since not all second round picks receive regular contracts.

Unless another unsuspecting trade happens, Diallo will be in Oklahoma City for the near future, a place that he has already learned to like.

“We’re the only professional team in town and everybody supports us so it’s just like being here (Lexington) all over again,” Diallo said.

Diallo is also excited to be playing on a competitive team that has players who will push him to be his best.

“Getting an opportunity with veteran players like Russell Westbrook and Paul George, it’s a blessing for me,” Diallo said. “Just trying to soak in as much as I can and learn as much.”