OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti earns high praise from Bleacher Report writer Hughes

OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As the 2018 offseason closes it’s time to analyze and grade moves. OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti earns high praise from Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes.

It’s that time of year when pundits assess offseason moves and determine which squads improved, regressed or made the best under the radar moves. Bleacher Report Grant Hughes examined and graded every franchise in terms of their 2018 summer moves. Three squads and General Mangers earned Hughes highest grades including the OKC Thunder.

Marks continues to impress:

I’d bet good money Sean Marks will win Executive of the Year in the next five years. Marks penchant for turning nothing into something is impressive.

As Hughes points out Marks dumped aging unusable vets with albatross salaries (Timofey Mozgov, Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard via a trade/buyout).

Next he signed younger contributing players via economically attractive rates (Ed Davis, Treveon Graham, Shabazz Napier) and retained Joe Harris.

Ujiri joins magician ranks:

Masai Ujiri is the one GM who gives Sam Presti a run for his Magician’s title. Odds are if either OKC or Toronto finish higher than predicted it will be one of these two men who claim EOY hardware. For Ujiri’s part he gambled on Kawhi Leonard‘s health and the ability to retain him past one season. The true mastery of Ujiri was grabbing arguably a top three NBA talent without losing players earmarked to be a part of the future core.

As much as I like Jakob Poeltl he was at the bottom of the bench mob (along with Norm Powell) plus Anunoby group. Let’s face it Gregg Popovich makes everyone better and odds are Poeltl will revel in the Spurs system. When I consider Tiago Splitter, Aron Baynes, Dewayne Deadmon, Joffrey Lauvergne et el in comparison to Poeltl who posseses a high I. Q. and nimble feet I can see the Austrian blossoming under Pops. Still the fact Ujiri retained OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright is nothing less than a miracle.

Presti continues to earn high praise:

Sam Presti also garnered Hughes highest marks for his offseason wizardry. The OKC Thunder GM utilized a method incorporating moves akin to Marks in Brooklyn and Urjiri in Toronto. Clearly re-signing Paul George was considered the coup. Yet, also re-signing Jerami Grant at an economical rate was equally impressive. For some the Melo trade ranks equally to the PG13 retention, depending on where you fall on the Carmelo Anthony regression debate.

What isn’t debatable was the fact Presti got out of paying, waiving or buying out Melo’s huge $27.9 million contract. Instead of having an empty resource sitting on the financial sheet the GM brings in Dennis Schroder and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in addition to over $12 million in tax exemptions. We’ve learned at TI never to underestimate Sam Presti, yet these moves add to his lore.  If Nerlens Noel can re-discover his pre-draft promise then Presti rivals genius territory.

"None of this happened in a vacuum, either. Oklahoma City got markedly better at a time when the Rockets took a step in the other direction. Houston may still be the biggest in-conference threat to the Warriors, but the Thunder have at least closed the gap.Considering everyone thought this offseason would be about OKC coping with the loss of George, that qualifies as much more than a pleasant surprise. And it also renders lineup fits and the contributions of three picks between No. 45 and No. 57 secondary concerns."

Hughes points to the three draft picks in the 45 through 57 as secondary concerns (Devon Hall, Kevin Huervey and trading for Hamidou Diallo). But, given Diallo’s athleticism and potential this low key move showcases Presti’s ability to add sneaky value.


Check out Hughes article to discover where all teams were positioned. As for Thunderous Intentions, Lawrence George reviewed and graded each of Sam Presti’s offseason moves. His review and grades are in concert with Hughes and there is the belief Sam Presti may have already sewn up EOY.

dark. Next. Thunder Trivia: uncovering 50 fun, surprising and random facts

Much will obviously depend on how the squad translates the talent and depth into wins. That will be the ultimate test, but clearly Presti has put the squad in a position to return to the West’s elite ranks. Now the onus shifts on to Billy Donovan – but that’s a story for another day.