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What you need to know from Sam Presti’s preseason presser

What you need to know from Sam Presti’s preseason presser

Sam Presti spoke with the local media for roughly 35 minutes on Wednesday, his annual preseason availability to set the stage for media day (Friday) and training camp (Saturday).

Not too much interesting material to take from it, but if you’re looking for news, the two main items were a) Cameron Payne is cleared for 5-on-5 play and b) Mitch McGary’s future looks very uncertain in Oklahoma City.

Said Presti of McGary, “I’m disappointed in the fact that he’s in that situation. We’re not privy to the NBA’s program, so I don’t have a whole lot of information. All I can say to you is that I’m disappointed. Then from there, I don’t think I have to expand past that.” Presti did say McGary would be with the team for training camp, though.

Other than that, here are the highlights:

  • Presti on if he’s seen a change in Westbrook so far: “I think it would be hard for me to make a snap judgment just because we haven’t really started a whole lot. But I would say this: I would say for anybody as a leader, you know, coming into a different environment and different circumstances, I think the expectation would be that you would continue to grow and evolve I think, and I think that’s his expectation. So there’s opportunity across the board for our entire team, our entire roster, entire staff, and that’s where I think a lot of the excitement and enthusiasm comes from. But Russell has been a player and person that’s evolved every step of the way, and I think this is another opportunity for him to do that.”
  • Presti talked very highly of Billy Donovan: “For me being around Billy now for a full season and a full off-season, it’s really becomes apparent just how much he adds to the organization by not just being the coach of the team but how he goes about his work and how invested he is in the growth and development of not only the players but also the organization.”
  • On not having a lot of shooters: “Until we see the team and the style of play, until we have the opportunity to identify what the creative limitations are with this particular roster, I think it’s going to be really hard to sit back and say we need to have this or we need to have that. I think that in and of itself is what creates part of the excitement and enthusiasm that we have as a team. Which is we’re going to learn more about the team, understand the team. But if we were to just make judgments based off of what we think verses what we know, I think we’ll be really missing a learning opportunity.”
  • Presti seemed to really want to embrace the apparent identity of the team — physicality, athletic, tough. And didn’t seem all that concerned with the lack of shooting: “There has to be in competitive sports more ways to win than one. I think we demonstrated that last year. We weren’t a great 3-point shooting team. When we won, we won by playing to our strengths. Leveraging our advantages. If everyone’s trying to win the same way, I think it’s the easiest path to the middle, and we have to continue to figure out what that path for us is going to be to maximizing ourselves as a team. I wouldn’t say just this season, but I think moving forward as well because, as we know, teams change, players change. Principles, I think are the things that are the underpinning to your organization.”
  • On this awkward offseason: “We are presented with a situation and we’ve moved and turned the page. We’ve moved forward and now we’re focused on how do we continue to build on the values and the principles that have been in place. That’s to me the mentality or mindset that we’ve always applied. And that’s one of the telling things to me about where we are as a program and an organization. We’re in lock step with the principles. We believe and stand for the same things. The path will be different, the journey will be a little different, but it’s one continuous approach to basketball in Oklahoma City.”
  • On Abrines: “I think like with any emerging player or any player transitioning from Europe to the NBA, there will be assimilation process, especially given the fact that our team is assimilating to identify where everybody’s strengths can be leveraged. I think the systems that Billy will put in place are going to be important to everybody’s overall growth. For us, it was great to have him in the immediacy, but we see long-term an opportunity for him to grow and thrive with us. But there will be a little bit of a transition for sure. But he shoots the basketball at a high level. He’s got good size. He’s bigger than people probably realize when you get up close to him. And he has a good understanding of how to play and what his game is, which I think happens when you play overseas at that level.”S
  • On Oladipo: “But Victor is, I think people here in Oklahoma City are going to take to him very quickly and very kindly. He, in addition to getting better season by season, I mean, it’s exciting to think about the speed, agility, quickness and ferocity of a Westbrook-Oladipo backcourt. That’s exciting for us. So couple that with some of the other big, physical, athletic players that we have those are the things that get you excited.”