I don’t know how, but Sam Presti has flipped OKC’s fortunes on its head in a short 14-month span. From ‘franchise in turmoil’ once Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Warriors, the Thunder are now ‘serious championship contenders’. A series of roster moves have helped Presti give Oklahoma City a serious chance to win it all, and in turn, sew up ‘Executive of the Year’ honours before the season even commences. Here is a timeline of how Sam Presti pulled off the seemingly impossible.
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Trading Serge Ibaka for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis
TECHNICALLY this came before Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder. However, the decision to pull the trigger and acquiring Oladipo set them up for success in season 2016-17 regardless of Durant’s choice. Personally, I think Orlando’s former #2 pick can still prove his worth and emerge as a decent fringe All-Star type of player. Drafting Domantas Sabonis also gave them a prospect that has shown he had some range as well.
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Extend Russell Westbrook
AFTER Durant’s deflection getting Westbrook to re-up was HUGE for the franchise. There was a lot of speculation that they were going to trade the MVP candidate and bottom out. With Westbrook steering the ship though they were expected to stay in the playoff mix and it gave fans a reason to cheer after losing KD. His contract currently ranks as the 9th highest average wage heading into this season, which considering is output is a bargain.
Extend Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo
SAY what you will about the $$$ they threw at Oladipo and Adams, but at the time the move was made to lock up their best players. Some think that Steven Adams doesn’t warrant as big a payday as he got. If you flashback to the 2016 conference finals though he looked every bit the 4yr/$100 million dollar man the Thunder made him.
Trade for Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson
IT’S very fair to say that Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne weren’t superstars for the Thunder, so turning them into two solid role players was a good move. Douggie McBuckets has struggled to find consistency throughout his career but has shown he can still shoot it a bit and Gibson is a true energy guy who can get boards and points while your starters rest. The move to add them was a low-risk type of deal that still strengthened their roster.
Trade for Paul George
THE big one. After hundreds of trade rumours and discussions surrounding the availability of Paul George, the NBA world was STUNNED by Sam Presti swindling him away from the Pacers. Now as I’ve said before, I still think Oladipo can have a good career from here on out, but to trade him and Sabonis for is straight up robbery. Essentially Presti turned Serge Ibaka into Paul George. Fuck.
Trade for Carmelo Anthony
YOU thought you were surprised when the Thunder got PG13? Well, you would have suffered a mild heart attack once they landed Carmelo Anthony. It was no secret that Melo wanted out of New York and many expected a deal to Houston a formality and just a matter of time. Enter Sam Presti. A package with Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a 2018 2nd rounder later and ‘Hoodie Melo’ is a resident of Oklahoma. The trade gives OKC offensive versatility that could see them put up a 40 point quarter or 70 point half up in the blink of an eye. In today’s NBA that’s a valuable trait.
SAY what you will about OKC going all in on this season and the potential for it to implode in the offseason, Presti had to make the moves he did. Westbrook isn’t content fighting for the 4th seed in the now loaded West and as a result, even if Melo and/or George bounce in the offseason it was worth the gamble. Do they have enough to win it all and take down the Warriors? Maybe, they will need to learn how to play off the ball from one another after all three stars ranked inside the top 20 for usage rate a season ago. Winning solves everything though…
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