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, trade deadline series
John Wall OKC Thunder, trade deadline series (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Don’t be bullied into losing situations (contracts):

The irony of this section is Presti could just as easily have found himself in the same situation as the Hornets and Wizards given the direction the OKC Thunder were headed.

He already had committed to George and Westbrook but never added the right pieces for them to excel. We can debate this all day long, (and I’m not someone who is anti-Presti) but you’ll never convince me Presti gave Westbrook the best chance to succeed because he failed to add efficient perimeter shooters to the team.

Let’s revisit this thought next season after Westbrook integrates with the Rockets. Surrounded by efficient 3-point snipers Russ may find his own shooting efficiency improve simply because he won’t be tasked with having to carry the offense or only have one other player to help.

For what it’s worth I believe Kemba Walker will be a better fit in Boston than Kyrie was. That said, the Hornets simply couldn’t afford to offer him the supermax. At best Walker is the perfect second or third option on a quality team. The fact the Hornets also lost their second leading scorer (Jeremy Lamb) this offseason speaks to the terrible choices they made to overpay their other assets leaving Mitch Kupchak with no room to navigate improving the roster.

Notably, the Hornets have played in three postseasons in the last 15 years and not won a single round. That alone should be a reason to hit the reset button.

Washington is another team who can serve as a reminder to Presti about what not to do as he rebuilds the Thunder. John Wall while supremely talented. has a history of injuries so offering him the supermax was risky. At the very least Ernie Grunfeld should’ve built in caveats regarding health (as the 76ers did with Embiid) prior to issuing it. Instead, he’ll earn $38,199,000 while he misses this season and is due $171,131,520 over the next four seasons. It’s highly unlikely Wall will pass up his final year (player option) when he’ll bank $47,366,760.

Again, while it wasn’t ideal the OKC Thunder lost their cornerstone in Westbrook as well as George the issues of the Thunder weren’t tied to paying them max salaries. Rather, it was the choices made to offer large contracts to others on the team. And, I’m not citing those players as being undeserving, rather they weren’t the right type of players who could allow Russ and PG to transcend to the next level.

Presti needs to view these clubs failures closely and remind himself of how close he came to be in precisely the same boat.