Sam Presti Rumors
Royce Young: Sam Presti was asked Wednesday if he will talk to his team about protests during the national anthem: “Our viewpoint on it is obviously we’ve had players and staff stand for the national anthem over the past eight years. We’d love to see that continue. At the same time, our players have the opportunity and ability to express themselves as people, and we respect that above all.”
For a few days following Durant’s departure, there was speculation the Thunder would start over and trade Westbrook, who was set to become a free agent after the 2016-17 season. Instead, he signed a two-year contract extension and the organization was recharged instead of rebooted. “It’s been a tremendous opportunity for us as an organization and obviously Russell and his commitment and a lot of the young players we’ve had in place, we’re really excited about the opportunity to continue to build what is an unwritten legacy,” Presti said. “We will be going on our ninth season in Oklahoma City and we see this as another point in time to continue to build on our principles and vision for what the Thunder stands for and is about. We’re uniformly excited about what lies ahead, knowing full well that there’s going to be ups and downs. Part of building a sustainable and enduring organization is encountering different things along the way and figuring out how to turn them into opportunities to grow. That’s our mentality.”
Donovan, who is entering his second season, struggled at times last regular season, but he guided the Thunder to the brink of the NBA Finals before Oklahoma City blew a 3-1 series lead to Golden State. “It’s been tremendous to work with Billy. He is really committed to and invested in [success] for the organization,” Presti said. “We really saw his growth during the season, but I thought the most impressive thing he was able to do last year was take a longer view and allow a commitment to the process of improvement to really drive our results. This season coming in, he’s going to have encountered a lot of the different first-time challenges any coach would encounter. He did an exceptional job last year dealing with a lot of uncertainties.”
He had never really traveled internationally, and during those trips, Presti was exposed to so many new things. Food. Influences. Cultures. Ideas. He realized there were so many different ways to do things, not just on the basketball court but in life. Even though convincing the Spurs to draft Tony Parker was a game-changer for Presti professionally —promotions to director of player personnel and assistant general manager in San Antonio soon followed — all of those trips overseas were every bit as important personally. When the Sonics named him general manager in 2007, he knew exactly the kind of franchise he wanted to build. A year later, of course, the franchise relocated to Oklahoma City, but the zip code didn’t change Presti’s plan.