Lessons Sam Presti can learn from counterparts in Thunder rebuild

OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook and general manager Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder: Russell Westbrook and general manager Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
John Collins, Trae Young Atlanta Hawks – OKC Thunder rebuild lessons (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Recognize and respond when it’s time to shift direction:

An odd category in that it’s not always a situation of black and white in terms of obvious choices. The Hawks were a perennial playoff team over10 consecutive seasons but couldn’t get past LeBron James‘ teams. With looming contract negotiations for their core, management decided to shift into rebuild rather than constantly be the bridesmaid and faced with doing so coupled with a burgeoning salary sheet.

Atlanta missed the last two postseasons but have made smart draft picks unafraid to shift up or down to land their desired prospect and will likely reenter the playoff picture armed with young cost effective assets.

Similarly, the Grizzlies Grit and Grind era played in seven consecutive postseasons but failed to reach the NBA Finals as they navigated the wild west featuring tough competition in the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, and Warriors. As their core aged and with the league changing to small ball, increased perimeter emphasis and faster pace it became time to shift to a rebuild. By trading Marc Gasol and Mike Conley within the past five months the club has fully committed to the next phase of the franchise.

Both the Mavericks and Cavaliers switched direction but in their cases, it followed championships. Dallas is poised to reenter the mix while the Cavaliers continue to adjust in the post LeBron era.

As for the Heat and Rockets, their clubs are defined by an unwillingness to ever give in to the rebuild. Neither Pat Riley or Daryl Morey will concede to losing and although it’s yet to result in sustained losing I’d suggest Sam Presti was wise not to follow this method. Riley has the credentials to back up this choice winning three titles in the last 14 seasons and only missing the playoffs four times in this period. Alternatively, Morey’s clubs may have only missed the playoffs in four of his 14 seasons as GM, but they’ve yet to reach an NBA Finals.

The Pistons are a club who it would be wise not to emulate since the past decade they’ve only made the postseason twice. Worse, they’ve made poor choices in overpaying for talent trying to force their way back into the mix.