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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Sam Presti, Billy Donovan, OKC Thunder
Sam Presti, Billy Donovan, OKC Thunder (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images) /

Presti eludes to LONG process of reformulation:

Several questions posed to the GM were tied to what the team intends to do this season. Whether it was if he’d be happy if the Thunder won 52 games or a more direct “will you tank this season” Presti refused to state outright his preference was to tank.

Instead, he elected to say he would let the players dictate how the team did and the franchise would navigate with a long term vision of reloading and replenishing in mind.

In spite of a more forthright presser than usual, it wouldn’t be Presti if he didn’t throw in some double talk. This topic is where we witnessed most of it.

Take for example how much Presti chose wax on about Chris Paul or how he fawned over Andre Roberson. Those comments led me to believe they are his two priority trade targets. And, it’s similar to how most GMs function– big up the guys you want to trade and make it seem like they are untouchable so you can turn around and trade them the next week.

As constructed the team could elect to try to compete while also retaining their draft picks. This scenario might also be what the GM hopes for because if they overachieve it will be easier to get more value for Paul and other players like Roberson, Adams, Schroder and possibly even Gallinari.

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If I had to guess though it behooves Presti’s team to not perform well for several seasons just so he has options in the draft. Granted, the picks which came in belong to other teams but the Thunder underperforming will mean OKC get numerous picks each draft with the ideal scenario being one of the top 3 picks coming from their own slot.

That’s not to say he won’t package some picks to add assets but it’s hard to imagine he’ll veer from a massive improvement prior to the 2022 draft when it’s expected the high school prospects are included. Rather, it’s more likely Presti’s goal will be to trade away the veterans and assets he has which fall outside a specific timeline as he tries to bolster his picks for the 2022 draft.

Depending on the next few draft classes Presti could also find the team in a position to combine development assets, competing for a lower playoff seed along with getting strong draft choices (akin to the Boston Celtics).

Evades most BillyD questions:

One thing I did notice is Presti veered away from most questions surrounding Billy Donovan. For example. he didn’t bite on how Westbrook and George felt about the coach. Conversely, he credited Donovan for the development of assets but the only two he could summon as examples were Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson.

Grant feels like a stretch given Adrian Griffin was the coach who should get most of the credit for his growth. The fact Presti could only cite TFerg as the other example is worrisome, particularly when the team will be comprised of so much youth and therefore development will be a staple of their success.