An ironic secondary meaning of Presti’s new R and R  team mantra

OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks with media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE viaGetty Images)
OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks with media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE viaGetty Images) /

OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti penned a visage to the fan base regarding the team’s new R and R manta of reposition and replenish. But, given how the past two weeks transpired arguably a more accurate and ironic assessment could be retrained and restricted!

Generally the OKC Thunder General Manager, Sam Presti is someone who dances with the media. What I mean is it always feels like he enters a room with an objective to say certain things and navigates questions to ensure he delivers that message. To say the GM is adept at dealing with the media and won’t ever lapse into a Vlade Divac or Magic Johnson unguarded moment would be understating his prowess.

Usually, I spend hours dissecting his pressers watching his face, gauging his words and repeating that process numerous times to find the hidden meanings in what he’s saying. However, in both Presti’s live media session yesterday and within an article, he penned for The Oklahoman he veered away from this tendency.

Still, there was a clear mandate, it’s just that the message was singular in nature in terms of what presumably is the new OKC Thunder mantra of R & R. This isn’t the typical allusion to rest and relaxation rather Presti’s comment refers to reposition and replenish. In the Oklahoman article, he uses the term (or similar terms on no less than eight occasions in a little over 1,000 words.

"This summer, the story of the Oklahoma City Thunder is transitioning to a new phase. Over the last few weeks, we have parted ways with foundational players — people who have represented our city to the world, who have sacrificed for us and flourished on our behalf. Although this has been painful, I also believe that — given the circumstances — it was necessary. In saying goodbye to the past, we have begun to chart our future. The next great Thunder team is out there somewhere, but it will take time to seize and discipline to ultimately sustain."

The funny part was I immediately thought this is the OKC Thunder equivalent of The Process which lo and behold Rachel Nichols also opined on during Thursday’s episode of The Jump.

Yet, the problem with this scenario is Presti was also seemingly delivering a message to Thunder Nation regarding the reality for this franchise. Unlike the 76ers, the Thunder are in a small market – the second smallest in the Association in fact.

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This analogy along with Presti’s commentary about the realities of being in a small market sure felt like he was stating – look we can’t compete with the big markets to lure top end, free agents we’ll have to draft — but when those players reach the point they can leave – they will. Moreover, he also seemed to be saying there won’t be any more big swing risks to land another big star based on how the Paul George experiment failed to succeed.

It’s hard to blame Presti, the franchise did what they could, the community did everything they could and the fans well – you know they remain among the best and most supportive in the Association. But, at the end of the day, Russell Westbrook was the only top end talent that ever elected to stay and even with that, once he recognized PG was bailing even the Brodie knew it was time for him to move on if he wanted to win that gold ball.

Initially, I was excited to experience the second round of building through young talents. But, after George’s comments coupled with Presti’s letter and interview it’s hard not to come away slightly depressed. That doesn’t mean OKC won’t have the opportunity to win – the Raptors just proved one superstar, some luck and depth can result in that unusual circumstance.

However, with the realities just listed it means the Thunder will have to find that perfect scenario where enough of their young talents ascend and the club gets lucky by adding the perfect vet(s) or superstar and win in a short window of opportunity.

The truth might be fans should be accepting R and R is really means Restrained and Restricted. Hopefully, the new CBA will address this issue otherwise the small markets simply don’t have the same opportunity to compete. Unfortunately, that new CBA won’t be negotiated for a minimum of four ( either Board of Governors or Players Association exercise opts out) to five seasons.

Next. Thank you, Russell Westbrook; a trip down memory lane. dark

No, this message from Sam Presti is serving up a new mantra, but he’s also warning the fanbase it will take time and a very specific set of circumstances for the Thunder to reascend to the type of club we’ve witnessed through the first 11 seasons in franchise history.

R and R indeed!