Sam Presti Rumors
The Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice will honor Thunder vice president/general manager Sam Presti at its 2016 Humanitarian Awards Dinner on Sept. 6 at the Skirvin Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City. During Presti’s tenure as Thunder GM, players have made more than 1,600 community appearances in Oklahoma. Presti, 39, has also contributed to state-wide programs and served on the board of numerous community organizations.
“Russell has been an outstanding leader of this team since he was drafted by our organization eight years ago. His competitiveness, character, and unique athletic ability have propelled him to the forefront of the game,” said Presti. “Russell personifies many of the traits that are synonymous with Oklahoma and Oklahomans. We are excited that Russell has chosen to continue to build the legacy of the Thunder with us as we move forward together.”
“We are pleased to welcome Alex to the Thunder organization,” said Presti. “He brings a unique blend of international experience and skill for his age. He will continue to add depth and versatility to our core of perimeter players.”
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.”
Q: From the human standpoint, Sam, before you even think about the roster and the future and the organization, how did this news hit you and where does it leave you? Sam Presti: “Well obviously disappointed, but also very respectful of the fact that Kevin had earned the right to make the best decision for himself. And I also think it’s an opportunity to reflect on what he was so integral in building. It’s very rare that a player essentially gets to found a franchise, and see it to the heights that we’ve been fortunate enough to achieve. Four out of six Western Conference Finals, a trip to the Finals, the fourth best record in professional sports over the past six seasons, with San Antonio, New England, and Green Bay. He was truly one of the founding fathers of the program, along with Russell and Nick Collison. So there’s disappointment that that chapter has ended, but also respect for his service and his commitment.
Presti: “Like I said before, it’s disappointing that his tenure with the organization has come to a close. But in his final season, and what I felt like was maybe his best season as a franchise we were 7-5 in the postseason against the Spurs and the Warriors. Offensively, we were incredibly successful against two of the better defenses in the league in back to back series. I think the outcome surely is disappointing, but the mettle and the spirit and the focus that that particular team showed throughout the season and into the postseason was one of the finer moments in the evolution of the organization – if not its finest moments, given the competition we were facing and the way we handled it with poise and composure and toughness.”
Q: Did you chat with him after Kevin’s decision? Presti: “Obviously (because Presti was) flying back from New York, I haven’t spoken with him. I’ve texted with him, and he and I have been in contact, as I have been with a lot of our players through this process. This is a group of people who have been through quite a bit together, so he and I will have our conversation, and reflect on it, but I would let Russell convey and express however he feels.”