Sam Presti Rumors
The right offer of cap flexibility and draft picks could have Horford relocating. Horford understand this. He says Presti has been up front with him. “I think anything is possible,” says Horford. “But I’m not going to dwell on [any trade talk] too much.” And it’s worth noting the Thunder are in no hurry to deal him. Oklahoma City has one of the NBA’s lowest payrolls. And they see value in keeping Horford around. He insists he is satisfied with his situation—and thrilled to get the chance to wipe the memory of last season away.
Horford has warmed to Oklahoma City quickly. He appreciated the straightforwardness of Thunder GM Sam Presti. “He just told me he wanted me to come in here and have an impact in the culture here in the locker room,” Horford says. “Just everything that I’m about, to bring it over here.” And he marveled at the lengths the organization will go to for players. “I’ve been in different places, but this is just a very special place,” Horford says. “And I had no idea. From afar, I’ve always seen Oklahoma City and the Thunder as a good organization, but I didn’t realize how special it is here.”
Brandon Rahbar: George Hill on OKC’s chemistry: “You have to give praise to the front office here. Sam Presti brings in high character guys. Coach has done drills where we have to talk about who we are as a person.”
MOST OF THESE types of transactions are getting more sophisticated. In a series of trades over the past two years, the Oklahoma City Thunder have amassed 18 first-round picks and three pick-swap options to improve their draft position in various years through 2027. “There’s a lot of ways to shy away from these types of decisions, but ultimately we have to put the Thunder first,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said. “I feel passionate about relentlessly pursuing a bright future for the organization.”
By collecting such a volume of picks, Presti is hoping to strike it rich on the couple that do succeed. And to increase his chances, when he traded away stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook to the LA Clippers and Rockets, respectively, he pushed the limits of the returning picks as far out as possible. This was to increase the likelihood that the Rockets and Clippers would be further removed from a contending window. When the picks came due, the chances of being a higher selection would be improved.
But, of course, that isn’t enough — Presti also built in options. The first-round picks from Houston for Westbrook don’t arrive until 2024 and 2026, but Presti asked for a pick swap for the Rockets’ pick this upcoming season (top-four protected). In the event of a black swan event — like, say, Westbrook and Harden demanding trades within a year — the Thunder had another way to capitalize. A pick swap, though, is valuable only if you expect to be more competitive than your trading partner. Already preparing the Thunder for a rebuild, Presti negotiated into the swap a clause that allowed for the 2021 Miami Heat pick that Oklahoma City also owned as a substitute.
Brandon Rahbar: George Hill talks very highly of the OKC community, organization, Sam Presti and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Hill chuckles and says Shai is “a bit better” than he was when he was his age.