Sam Presti has lost another OKC Thunder front office member as Paul Johnson becomes the Sacramento Kings Director of Basketball Operations.
Of the 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, there is a handful who garner the respect of the majority in terms of their culture. Much of that is due to how the teams run the franchise from the top down. Of the select few the OKC Thunder rank at the top alongside the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors, and Miami Heat.
Each of these franchises has designed and built an identity and culture which other teams try to emulate. The Spurs became the winningest franchise in the past few decades and subsequently the template top clubs elected to follow. The OKC Thunder head man Sam Presti was nurtured and developed in the Spurs system so it’s not surprising the Thunder joined this elite group. That Presti has accomplished this feat in one of the smallest markets should be celebrated.
For years the Spurs witnessed assistant coaches and front office personnel poached when teams were filling positions and now it’s the Thunder who are experiencing the same situation.
Paul Johnson exits OKC Thunder for Sacramento Kings
To that end, the OKC Thunder front office staff are highly coveted by franchises looking to build a similar identity and culture. Billy Donovan was scooped up by the Bulls shortly after the Thunder and he agreed to part ways.
Several other front office Thunder staffers either were hired or found themselves on shortlists for open positions of the opposition franchises. For example, the Pistons hired Troy Weaver as their new General Manager.
Last offseason, a trio of Donovan assistants exited. Mark Bryant and Darko Rajakovic left to join the Suns under another prior Thunder assistant Monty Williams who took over the head coach job in Phoenix while Bob Beyer exited to join the Kings.
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Earlier this year, Nazr Mohammed interviewed for various openings with other clubs but remained with the Thunder.
Internally, Presti shuffled his front office with promotions to seven different members including Paul Johnson who was tapped to become the OKC Blue Assistant General Manager. Johnson didn’t hold this G-League position long as new Kings Monte McNair swooped in to nab him to fill the role of Director of Basketball Operations as per Adrian Wojnarowski’s tweet.
What this means is Sam Presti has another job to fill along with hiring a new head coach while his team simultaneously prepares for the NBA draft and free agency.
It’s the price you pay for success. And while the Thunder have aspirations to become a champion the fact Presti’s peers are so highly coveted it means the head man is excelling in developing talent at the executive level as well as on the court.