The NBA is one of the best dramas of all time. While the production on the court is incredible and keeps us wanting more, the entertainment value of what happens off it makes the league a year-round business. That drama has often found its way to Bricktown, as it does to most NBA markets, but the way Sam Presti and company handle it should make the fanbase rejoice.
As we sit in another summer of Daryl Morey’s mayhem, it highlights the difference between the two top executives who will forever be tied together by one player. The lone mistake in Presti’s career that everyone highlights in red is his trade that sent James Harden to the Houston Rockets in the early stages of the Thunder in OKC.
Despite that move, the Thunder still found plenty of success and trips to the Western Conference Finals but never got back to the NBA Finals or won a championship with the core of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Daryl Morey’s mayhem should highlight how great Sam Presti is for the OKC Thunder.
Presti shipped the shooting guard to Daryl Morey’s Houston Rockets. H-Town was home for Harden, and he seemed to grow a great bond with top executive Daryl Morey, who would routinely publicly advocate for the Arizona State product to take home MVP honors during his impressive Rockets tenure.
Houston never could get past the dominant Golden State Warriors, despite shuffling the deck a few times in an attempt to make a long playoff run. An injury to Chris Paul and a historically bad shooting night derailed the Rockets’ best chance to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals.
Daryl Morey has always been loud, putting out public opinions and stirring up controversy. That includes his time in Philadelphia, where he currently reigns as the 76ers’ top executive. After a messy Houston divorce with Harden, Morey had a chaotic situation of his own with Ben Simmons in Philly.
Morey eventually flipped Simmons for fellow disgruntled guard James Harden and practically rekindled those old Rockets teams only alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Philly saw a disappointing collapse against Boston to end their playoff run this season and once again start a summer of Mayhem for Morey.
Despite opening into his player option, James Harden promptly requested a trade from Philly with his sights set on LaLa Land to join forces with the Clippers. No trade materialized, so Morey announced that they would remove Harden from the trade block and expected to see the former MVP in training camp in October. Though, as the NBA world turns, we knew that would not be the end of it.
James Harden has taken an unprecedented shot at Daryl Morey to muddy up the waters and hold the 76ers feet to the fire on a potential trade. It was strange to see the harsh language from Harden going as far as to call Morey a “liar,” given the tight relationship that is painted between the two.
While we do not know how this saga will unfold, it highlights Sam Presti’s brilliance. The OKC Thunder have seen Kevin Durant make a surprise move to join up with the Golden State Warriors after blowing a 3-1 series lead over the Bay Area Beasts, and quietly recovered from that devastating blow.
Sam Presti, in the background, was able to swoop up disgruntled Pacers star Paul George and convince Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause to come to Oklahoma City from the big apple. After that big trio did not work, and after another failed season between the George and Westbrook duo, Sam Presti was able to pivot from the star tandem without making waves.
It was not that long ago that Sam Presti pulled off a blockbuster trade to net back historic draft capital, a budding star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and a flippable piece in Danilo Gallinari to deliver Paul George to the Clippers.
Think about how unbelievable that is in today’s NBA. Sam Presti did enough leg work to not allow the trade request from Paul George and Russell Westbrook to get out public, which allowed the OKC Thunder to maintain their leverage and squeeze out the maximum value for their two stars.
That sparked the OKC Thunder to have a speedy rebuild, and they now possess one of the league’s brightest young cores with historic draft compensation still rolling in from the L.A. Clippers and Houston Rockets.
So despite the initial bad Harden trade to Houston, Sam Presti was able to get a ton of value for Russell Westbrook from Morey while flipping Chris Paul for even more compensation the following offseason in taking two of the most “untradeable contracts” in the NBA for legitimate value.
Sam Presti working in shadows, not letting many things leak out, and certainly limiting the drama that escapes Bricktown is why OKC Thunder fans should be extremely excited that he is in charge of the organization.