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
Sam Presti, Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Expect more small market emphasis when BOG reconvene:

Sam Presti can paint the picture anyway he wants by throwing out optimistic statements regarding the success of the OKC Thunder over the past 11 seasons.

He can avoid the topic and push back on Adam Silver and the need for the league to address the situation. However, the reality in the current NBA generation is the superstars, for the most part will head to large markets given the opportunity.

Run through the list of top tier free agents from this offseason and note: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving left their teams to head to New York. Kawhi Leonard won the title with a squad who load managed him through 60 games, fostered him with a supporting cast tailored for his success and was committed to running everyone back while continuing to make tweaks to improve.  Still, he left to return to LA. Jimmy Butler chose to head to Miami.

While both Anthony Davis and Paul George forced their way out of the incumbents with at least a year left on their current deals (in the case of PG – he was just one season into a four-year term). And after PG left, Westbrook wanting success also elected to leave to a larger market in Houston. That’s seven of the top arguably 15 best players in the NBA, eight if you count LeBron leaving last summer to move to LA.

Presti spoke of the need to adapt and how small markets

have to find their own path to success. Read between the lines and what that really means is he knows OKC isn’t going to be on many (if any) free agents shortlists. Moving forward, it’s highly unlikely he makes another big swing risk trade as he did for George unless he views it as an opportunity to win in one season (like the Raptors did with Kawhi)

The fear for small market teams now is the window to succeed has shrunk. Even in the scenario where you draft and develop talent. If you know those players are likely to want out when they get to choose (year seven) that means you have a very narrow window to achieve success.

Two squads who Presti could look to as examples would be the 76ers (Embiid/Simmons) and the Nuggets (Jokic/Murray). They both feature a pair of young developing talents with depth surrounding them. The trick for OKC as a small market will be landing the generational draft picks and then either convincing a higher tier player to join OKC in free agency or trading to add the vets necessary.