It looks like Sam Presti deserves a new nickname: Jordan Belfort. The Wolf of Thunder Alley pulled another rabbit out his hat this offseason, shocking everyone and blurring a few lines along the way.
With the 29th pick in the 2014 draft, Presti and Co. stunned all of Thunder Nation by selecting SF Josh Huestis out of Stanford University, a pick that seemed to everyone as reminiscent in every facet to last year’s pick of Andre Roberson. The two players have limited offensive ability-although one could argue Huestis can at least hit a jumper-but they both are hustle players and bring loads to the defensive side of the ball. If you want proof, just go look up “Josh Huestis vs. Andrew Wiggins (yes THAT Andrew Wiggins) NCAA Tournament” on Youtube.
But this year The Wizard Presti had a trick up his sleeve, a classic move for the GM of the small market sleeve. As the 29th pick, Huestis is guaranteed a first-round rookie-scale deal, which locks him into roughly almost $2 million over the next two years. But according to Darnell Mayberry of The Daily Oklahoman, Huestis agreed to leave his rookie contract unsigned in order to give the Thunder more financial flexibility in terms of staying below the luxury tax. Instead of taking the 15th roster spot on the Thunder, Huestis will instead sign with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the 66er’s, for the next year or so, allowing the Thunder to keep a roster spot open and stay below the luxury tax by allowing Huestis to develop in the D-League on someone else’s expense. These actions effectively make Josh Huestis the first domestic “draft-and-stash” player in the history of the NBA.
But according to Zach Lowe, Huestis and his agent, Mitchell Butler, had a prearranged agreement with the Thunder before the draft occurred. The thinking behind this is simple: as stated before, it frees up a roster spot for the Thunder and doesn’t eat up precious millions of dollars.
As for Huestis, his reasoning behind agreeing to this innovative move was simply because of the potential guarantee of a lucrative NBA contract in the future. And as it looked before the draft, Huestis did not project to be a first round pick anyway, meaning he would not have received a guaranteed contract. So in other words, he’s just delaying his NBA contract instead of having to grind for it, while also granting him the opportunity to choose the teams he wished to play for, which, according to his agent, were the Spurs and Thunder.
So was this move totally legal? It certainly seems to be allowed, but goes against the “unspoken rules” of the draft. This move just goes to show the genius of the Thunder front office and their ability to maneuver and manipulate their financial status,
If you’re a Thunder fan, don’t despair: this is just another move by the genius Presti.