Michael Scotto: Former Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan has been hired by the OKC Thunder, league sources told @BBallInsiders.
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Adams, back in New Zealand for his just completed kids’ coaching camps and a looming Friday charity golf event in his name, was asked about the curious George addition (OKC have him for a year before he becomes a free agent), and his response was pure Steven Adams. “It should be good, man,” he told the assembled media at his Auckland coaching camp. “The front office does a good job of not bringing in … (a less than complimentary term beginning with D is proffered) … I’m not going to use that word. But along the lines of that. “They bring in really good people who fit well into the locker-room because all that matters, because you could bring in a really good player, but if they screw up the locker-room you’ll still lose games. And the whole point is winning games.
Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger has reached an agreement in principle to become the general manager of the LA Clippers, league sources told ESPN on Wednesday. The Clippers offered Winger the job late last week, and the sides have agreed on terms for a multi-year contract.
The LA Clippers have offered Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger its general manager’s job, league sources told ESPN. A deal could be finalized soon, league sources said. Winger, an assistant GM/team counsel for the Thunder, would report directly to new Clippers President of Basketball Operations, Lawrence Frank.
Fred Katz: Thunder have two assistant GMs along with Troy Weaver but this will be a big loss for them. Winger is very well-respected.
He likes the existing roster and has a close relationship and confidence in Presti and Weaver. He has built a strong bond with head coach Billy Donovan. He knew what he signed for and, with the Thunder coming off a successful first post-Durant season and with pieces in place to improve the team, there are a lot of reasons to commit again.
The expectation is that the Thunder will meet with Westbrook at the start of free agency and offer him that five-year extension. If he takes it, he’ll solidify himself as the face of the franchise, and the hub around which Presti will try to reconstruct a championship contender. But if Westbrook isn’t willing to commit, it would almost certainly set off a frenzied bidding war for Westbrook’s services — and, in doing so, give Presti the chance he didn’t have with Durant: to get something in return for a departing star.
The answer is about as nuanced as Presti’s personality. Continuity is not binary. Teams can promote it within the core while still making changes on the margins. That’s what the Thunder plan to do this summer, though Presti will be his usual measured self in taking such an approach. “Being urgent is less important than being accurate,” he said. “There’s not a lot of reward for enthusiasm and recklessness.”
This was the third-youngest team in OKC franchise history, older than only the 2009 and 2010 squads. Presti will be quick to point that out whenever given the opportunity. And given the financial position the Thunder find themselves in, run up over the cap and not overloading with inherent flexibility, it’s the exact reason why he believes improvement within the core is most likely to come internally, not from the outside. “Those guys have gotten better every single season they have been in the league,” Presti said. “I really don’t have a concern that they will continue to, but there’s no question, Victor, Steven, those guys have to get better for us to continue to get where we want to go, and I think they are going to work to get to that point.”
Fred Katz: Presti on RWB extension: “Hopeful that he remains really excited about being part of this organization for the remainder of his career”
Presti has prevailed in a large majority of trades he’s made, except the one everybody remembers, when he cast off Harden five years ago in a deal he didn’t want to make but deemed necessary because of oncoming luxury-tax penalties and the Beard’s ambitions. The next season Oklahoma City still won 60 games. “I put my trust in Sam,” Westbrook says, “and he always makes sure we have a chance.” Presti’s history of unearthing gems—he drafted Ibaka and Reggie Jackson at No. 24, Adams at No. 12—inspires faith that he can eventually dig out another. “You know how long my interview was for this job?” asks second-year coach Billy Donovan. “Ten hours. Sam is going to turn over every rock, flip it around and study it from every angle. You take comfort in that level of preparation.”
“Are you sustainable right now?” Donnie Strack asks Presti, because exercise, meditation and a stringent diet don’t ensure anything. “I’ve read the stories about Urban Meyer,” says Strack, Oklahoma City’s director of medical services, in reference to Ohio State’s hard-driving football coach. “That’s what Sam used to be like. Twenty-four hours a day. Maniacal.” In addition to the PowerPoint presentations and scouting dossiers, Presti held individual exit interviews with everybody in the organization and filled pages of a journal late at night, sometimes by the light of the memorial. He constructed a buttoned-down franchise that embodied the order he lacked as a kid, lawn at the facility meticulously mowed, labels on organic juice bottles forever facing out. “I like dealing with Oklahoma City,” says one prominent agent, “because it’s no-nonsense. It’s corporate.” You just have to decipher the Silicon Valley lexicon, deploying a “challenger spirit” instead of a “scarcity mind-set.”
Respected as one of the top personnel guys in basketball, Troy Weaver not only has a discerning eye for raw basketball talent, but a feel for whether a player’s emotional makeup conforms to the team culture the Thunder hold as sacrosanct. He’s an obsessive student of the NBA history, with an understanding and love of the game. This database allows him to consider every decision in a smart context.
Speaking after Golden State’s Monday morning shootaround in OKC, Steve Kerr disputed the report. “I don’t agree,” Kerr said. “(Thunder GM) Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know (Thunder owner) Clay Bennett. It’s a class organization all the way, so I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name name that’s put on it. I assume it’s just sources. Is it ‘sources’? I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. We have great respect for them. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first-class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”
Presti is calculating in every move. He is one of the league’s more astute and prepared general managers. He will have the Thunder competitive and improving, but the question is whether this smaller market can keep its best players. “Those of you have been around us with the eight years we’ve been here, we’ve never been impulsive, we’ve never been reactionary, we’ve never been careless with putting this franchise in the best positive position to be healthy and be competitive,” Presti said. “We wouldn’t change that right now. We’ll be intelligent with how we go forward. Although the organization will be different without Kevin, the principles he helped establish.”
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September 22, 2017 | 8:56 am EDT Update
At one time the Cavs were searching for the right return for Iman Shumpert and his contract (he’s owed $10.3 million this year and has a player’s option for $11 million next). All summer and even now, they have been unable to find a taker.
Of course there’s a possibility Cleveland trades the Nets pick. Cousins could be out there. Paul George. Russell Westbrook. Maybe someone we haven’t even considered. I reported weeks ago that the calls have already poured in to GM Koby Altman, gauging his interest in moving the pick. The Cavs could also keep the pick, or trade it on draft day.
When the Cavs signed Cedi Osman in July, I asked Lue if he had watched film of Osman. It was a necessary question because Osman is a rookie who’s played in Turkey and the Euroleague. He’s a 22-year-old and 6-8. A hustle defender. Lue’s reply…”nope.” OK, then. Osman is not going to get the first chance on this team.
The NBA is permitting teams to put advertisement patches on their jerseys beginning this season, and South Florida-based Ultimate Software has won the competition to occupy that space on Heat jerseys, according to two league sources. The Heat confirmed our story.
September 22, 2017 | 5:33 am EDT Update
Anthony’s reps have lobbied for the Knicks to trade him to Houston, but sources told The Post talks never gained traction. According to a source, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has been told through an intermediary Anthony would be eager for a player-coach reunion despite past differences in New York.