Sam Presti presser 5 takeaways: small markets, George comments, franchise direction

Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Raymond Felton, OKC Thunder (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Stagnant comment punctuates why Presti had no choice:

The first time the “stagnant” comment came up Presti managed to avoid responding, but it resurfaced later in the presser (13: 29). Presti almost bristled at this question and it was one of the few times he seemed at least slightly annoyed. As I mentioned, Presti is always diplomatic as he stated: “I don’t know the context” which of course allowed him to avoid fully answering the question.

Yet, his next comments solidified that one word was indicative of the direction the franchise had to shift to. A picture was painted by the GM stating everyone has to be committed and all pulling the rope in the same direction. Therefore, it’s clear with George calling the team stagnant Presti knew the star wasn’t going to be happy remaining.

What that meant was he needed to try to accommodate his superstar and take advantage of the leverage he had since he was in a position where no one knew (yet) that PG wanted out. The implication here is if he doesn’t move George immediately than he knows they’ll enter the season with George’s camp eventually leaking he wants out and suddenly OKC is in a position where they don’t get anywhere near the unprecedented haul of draft picks and talent back that he did.

In terms of timing Presti noted “shortly after July 1st” which would align with reports Kawhi Leonard originally spoke to Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler pairing with him. Therefore, it’s far more likely George was the third name on Leonard’s list after his first options fell through. In terms of offering clarity regarding other trade partners for George, the Raptors never took any deal for the small forward seriously as per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

"Leonard also asked the Raptors for Paul George, although a deal with Oklahoma City was never as close as some have reported and – despite those reports – Russell Westbrook was not included in the preliminary, and very brief, talks between the teams. In fact, those talks never even reached the team’s highest-ranking execs"

Finally, in terms of George calling the team stagnant, that’s more of a slight on Billy Donovan since it indicates the system was floundering. And, I’ll state it again, for a team George felt was stagnant it’s interesting he delivered the best stats of his career!