OKC Thunder general manager Sam Presti will hold his exit interview Thursday at 11:30 a.m. and Twitter terrorists aren’t going the like what he says -- or what he doesn’t say.
Predicting Presti’s next roster move might involve quantum physics, but predicting what the man will say has been pretty simple.
Presti’s purpose since Day One has been build a successful, sustainable franchise. Win while simultaneously building for the future. It’s a process. (See San Antonio Spurs.)
Based on what has transpired during Presti’s seven years in office, the process is working wonderfully. Five straight postseason appearances qualify as both success and sustaining it – as do four straight Northwest Division titles, advancing to three of the last four Western Conference finals and making an NBA Finals appearance in the Thunder’s fourth year of existence.
Even in adversity, OKC managed to thrive this season. Despite three-time All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook missing 36 games with knee surgery complications and starters missing 79 games total, the Thunder fell just one victory shy of matching last year’s 60-win season and was two wins shy of improving its winning percentage for a league record sixth straight season.
This season was the first time in the Presti regime the franchise did not improve its regular-season winning percentage – .244 (20-62) in 2007-08; .280 (23-59) in 2008-09; .610 (50-32) in 2009-10; .671 (55-27) in 2010-11; .712 (47-19) in 2011-12; .732 (60-22) in 2012-13; and .720 (59-23) in 2013-14.
Based on John Hollinger’s Player Efficiency Rating, no team had a Big Three as big as the Thunder this season with No. 1 Kevin Durant (29.90), No. 8 Westbrook (24.74) and No. 33 Serge Ibaka (19.66). Miami’s Big Three ranked No. 2 LeBron James (29.40); No. 18 Dwyane Wade (22.06) and No. 41 Chris Bosh (19.11). San Antonio’s Big Four ranked No. 21 Tim Duncan (21.40); No. 29 Manu Ginobili (20.06); No. 36 Kawhi Leonard (19.43) and No. 45 Tony Parker (19.00).
Durant was named Most Valuable Player after three runner-up finishes. He also won his fourth scoring title in the last five seasons and was the only unanimous All-NBA first-team selection. Ibaka was voted to the All-Defensive first team. Center Steven Adams was on the All-Rookie second team.
In the “What have you done for me lately?” world of sports, OKC has done plenty the last five years:
- San Antonio Spurs 281-113 (.713)
- OKC Thunder 271-123 (.688)
- tie, Miami Heat 271-123 (.688)
- Chicago Bulls 246-148 (.624)
- Dallas Mavericks 238-156 (.604)
- Miami Heat .481
- San Antonio Spurs .479
- OKC Thunder .470
- Denver Nuggets .468
- Phoenix Suns .465
- OKC Thunder .814
- Portland Trail Blazers .797
- Dallas Mavericks .792
- Indiana Pacers .7728
- New York Knicks .7726
- Chicago Bulls 17,513
- Los Angeles Lakers 17,329
- Indiana Pacers 17,249
- OKC Thunder 17,204
- Minnesota Timberwolves 17,159
- OKC Thunder 2,632
- Indiana Pacers 2,211
- Chicago Bulls 2,175
- Utah Jazz 2,150
- Charlotte Hornets 2,140
- Memphis Grizzlies 3,381
- Golden State Warriors 3,235
- Denver Nuggets 3,205
- Philadelphia Sixers 3,188
- Miami Heat 3,176
- OKC Thunder 3,163
All this prosperity, yet Twitter terrorists and message board murderers want coach Scott Brooks’ head on a stick. They've also wanted Kendrick Perkins to be amnestied ever since the option became available in the new collective bargaining agreement three years ago.
These detractors will not be pleased when Presti sits behind a lone microphone Thursday morning and reiterates what he has been saying since the franchise arrived.
Citing the team’s continued success and competitiveness, Presti will stay the course.
- He will express his faith in Brooks and endorse him as the best man for the job.
- He will insist amnesty for Perkins has not been considered.
- He will not discuss free agents or potential trades. (In addition to being tactically foolish, this also is considered tampering.)
- He will not share any specifics on the upcoming NBA Draft or reveal which players will come to OKC for private workouts, other than to say the organization’s thorough evaluation process is ongoing.
- He will not disclose his intentions of re-signing unrestricted free agents Thabo Sefolosha, Derek Fisher and Caron Butler, or if he plans to bring back reserve center Hasheem Thabeet, who has non-guaranteed contract for $1.25 million next season.
Presti will smile, check his notes and recite his words carefully. What the man says is precisely what he means.
This is one of the few times annually reporters are able to quote Presti. In fact, he prefers to be quoted, that way nothing gets lost in translation.
Do I know exactly what Presti will say Thursday morning? No, but I don’t think this is far off.