Sam Presti’s peers envious of his draft cupboard and flexibility gained through trades

OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti speaks with media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE viaGetty Images)
OKC Thunder GM Sam Presti speaks with media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE viaGetty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Spurs GM, R.C. Buford talks to OKC Thunder GM, Sam Presti (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Opposition envious:

The more interesting part of Smith’s article was the comments made by a rival NBA executive who clearly is a bit envious of what Presti got in return for his superstars. Moreover, the same executive notes how valuable Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is and confirms early in the offseason he was considered an untouchable Clippers asset.

"Opposing executive on the Thunder’s future: “It would be really nice to have that many picks, wouldn’t it? (laughs) I mean you can do almost anything with that. And they might have their next franchise guy in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to build around. We made a call on him, because you call on everyone, and the Clippers told us no way. And this was early in free agency. So, obviously they were high on him. I think Oklahoma City will be ok. They’ll be bad for a year or two, but after that, they might be terrific again.”"

Considering how quickly Sam Presti had to navigate the Paul George trade request his ability to get so much in return is impressive. The Clippers claim the massive amount they gave up to get Paul George should also be tied to Kawhi Leonard. In their shoes, I guess that’s a reasonable response since they felt if they didn’t get George they’d lose both players. Yet, I wonder how comfortable they’ll be in the summer of 2022 when both Leonard and George become free agents (if they exercise their options) and their draft cupboard is empty!

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The closest haul to what Presti got for George would be what the Pelicans GM, David Griffin obtained for Anthony Davis. Even in that scenario, Lonzo Ball has to prove he can contribute on both sides of the court and remain healthy as does Brandon Ingram given his blood clot issue of last season.

Also, the pieces Griffin got were made more impressive based on him flipping the Lakers fourth draft pick to land two impressive prospects (Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes).

Still, what Presti got back for Paul and augmented with the Jerami Grant and Russell Westbrook trades is unprecedented. Factor in confirmation from the executive SGA was considered untouchable less than a week prior to Presti stealing him away. Or the fact the OKC Thunder GM can still flip Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari at some point this season to further augment his draft cupboard or gain young assets.

This is why it’s not surprising to learn Presti’s rivals are covetous of the OKC Thunder situation and envious of the flexibility it gives the GM to work with.