Thunder general manager Sam Presti held his end-of-season press conference on Monday morning in Oklahoma City, and as per usual, it was full of neat Presti-isms and prime Sammy P speak. He discussed Russell Westbrook’s potential contract extension, making moves for the future, re-signing Nick Collison and more.
As is the case with most Presti speeches, he did a masterful job of saying a lot of words without really saying much of anything. That being said, he was as open and forthright as we’ve seen from him thus far. Below are some of the best bits from the hour-long media session.
On the 2016-17 Season
“It went by really fast for me. It was exciting. It was obviously historic on a lot of levels. It was great in the sense that it was about, for our organization, it was about taking on a challenge. It was about competing. It was about creating a new path and a new future. We’re really proud of what we accomplished.”
“We still want to be playing basketball right now. Our approach every year is to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. To get to the postseason, and to be able to impact the postseason, hopefully, by winning four playoff series within the span of two months. We weren’t able to advance this year, and we understand that, but we also understand we accomplished quite a bit with respect to the things we felt were really important to this season.”
“We wanted to stabilize the franchise coming out of last summer, and we wanted to see if we could find a way to create some momentum from the starting point in which we were. I think we’ve been able to do that. We’re really pleased with the foundation we have to work off of.”
On Russell Westbrook’s Extension
“The rules are — you can’t have that conversation until July 1. When that time comes, we’ll sit down and have conversations with him about what that opportunity presents. We’re obviously hopeful he remains really excited about being a part of this organization for the remainder of his career.”
On The Roster Moving Forward
“The age of the team is a great foundation for us in terms of player development. I think we do have to be intentional with the development of the group going forward. Throughout the roster I think there’s opportunity for a lot of different guys to improve and get better.”
“There are some things on the margins that can make us a better basketball team moving forward. One, we don’t have the margin for error that we’ve had in the past, I think that’s pretty safe to say. Therefore we can’t be 25th in the league in turning the ball over — we need to make marginal gains in that respect. We put teams on the free throw line this season about 24th most in the league, and we give up a significant amount of driving lanes to get to the rim. If we make marginal gains in those areas, I think that will really help to put us in a better position to maximize the group.”
“Obviously there will be some external opportunities there for us to improve the group. We’ll continue to look at all those and be opportunistic and decisive there.”
On Re-Signing Andre Roberson
“We had conversations with him in the fall. Those were productive and collaborative, but you can’t always find solutions all the time. So he will go into restricted free agency — every indication we’ve had from Dre and his agent is that he loves playing here. When a player shows interest in being here, it helps exponentially in getting a contract done.”
On Bringing Back Nick Collison
“We had a really positive conversation. If there’s a way to make that happen on our end of things, we’re going to try to make that happen.”
On the Designated Player Extension/New CBA
“I think it is a good thing for the league, right? I think it’s important for franchises, especially outside of a handful, to be able to have the opportunity to keep their best players. That’s probably healthy. If you’re serious about having competitive balance, and serious about lauding sustainability and things of that nature, then the rules need to kind of align with that. Unfortunately the last CBA….they didn’t. This CBA, they did. I think it’s positive that those things are in place for a lot of cities.”
“Being urgent is less important than being accurate. There’s not a lot of reward for enthusiasm and recklessness.”
“Our job is to be creative, not impulsive.”
- Presti spent a lot of time building up Enes Kanter as an integral piece, praising the big man’s hands and even predicted we’d see him become a three-point shooter. As Carson Cunningham asked on today’s Down to Dunk Podcast, is this the exact pitch opposing GMs will be receiving this summer? Starting early, Sam?
- Despite general mixed reviews on the seasons from Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams, Presti praised them both but did say they need to be better for OKC to get where they want to go.
- Tramel pitched the idea of losing Russ for nothing the same way Kevin Durant was lost. Presti said not to think so far ahead. “That’s never been the way we approached it.”
- In terms of the type personnel needed to maximize Westbrook’s skill set, Presti spoke about continuity, rhythm and a few other items I didn’t find particularly insightful at all.
- He was really high on the youth and ceiling of the current team. It almost felt like he was ready to go to war with them again, which means he’s probably in the process of trading everyone.
- Presti attempted a joke on a couple occasions, which I wasn’t prepared for. I never laughed, but I commend him for the effort.
- “We don’t have Kevin Durant. We don’t have that player.” Big, if true.
There’s obviously a lot more here, and you can dive into the presser below. It’s roughly an hour, and provided by NewsOK.