Sam Presti offers 5 key insights for OKC Thunder 2019-20 campaign

OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks to media at preseason media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder General Manager Sam Presti speaks to media at preseason media (Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2, Danilo Gallinari #8, OKC Thunder (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Positioning the vets for a trade:

If it felt like Sam Presti was laying the foundation for what is coming later this season based on the players he specifically cited on this year’s roster that’s probably because he was.

In spite of this iteration of the OKC Thunder having so many youngsters on it and the need for them to develop and grow very little discussion centered on the youth. Rather, Presti isolated on new additions Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari. In addition, Presti chose to cite Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder and briefly mentioned Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

As for CP3 and Gallo, although not guaranteed there is a strong possibility Presti will be looking to trade both vets this season to gain assets and more draft picks. Given that mandate, it’s not surprising he highlighted those two players specifically.

Presti provided a glowing review of Chris Paul stating what great shape he’s in, how CP3 immediately took a leadership role contacting and working out with his new teammates and the expectations for Paul to have a huge season. The underlying message here is not for OKC Thunder fans as much as it is laying the groundwork for other G.M.’s to pay attention to Paul and increase trade interest.

"Like Steven Adams, I’m really excited for him. I am really obviously a huge fan of his. I think that he still has growth left in his game. I think he has an opportunity to expand himself a little bit. He’s the ultimate blocking, tackling player, but I also think that he’s a talented player, and so he’ll have an opportunity to do a little bit more. I think Dennis obviously, Shai is a young player we have to continually think big but build small with him and not rush anything there because I think he’s an extremely talented guy, but you have to let those things take their course, and there will be ups and downs as we’ve seen with all kinds of young players here. Gallinari is just absolutely beautiful player to watch just because of his skill level and his understanding of the game."

(fast forward to approximately the 15:00 minute mark of the video for this excerpt)

The G.M.’s praise of Adams and Schroder could be strictly because he expects them to take a step forward with more opportunity this season. Conversely, this could be the groundwork for those individuals also to be trade bait.

As for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Presti was hesitant to put premature expectations on the young guard’s shoulders. Much like David Griffin positioned Zion Williamson with the Pelicans this stance could be viewed similarly.

That’s a smart way to approach the SGA situation so fans don’t put undue pressure on him replacing Westbrook. Those are huge shoes to fill and he’s a completely different type of player.  For now, it seems Presti is trying to emphasis Paul and Gallo’s talent while simultaneously positioning the focus on Adams and Schoder taking the next step.