By Michael Kinney
Sam Presti seems to thrive when people count him out the most. Heading into this year’s free agency, it looked like the Oklahoma City General Manager had no cards to play and was just going to sit back and be a spectator.
But that is not the Presti Thunder fans have grown to revere. Almost two hours before free agency officially began, Presti made the biggest and most unsuspecting move of the offseason by trading for Indiana’s Paul George.
The Thunder gave of guard Victor Oladipo and forward Domas Sabonis in exchange for George, who has one year left on his contract. No draft picks were involved.
“We’ve had a clear idea as to what we’re looking for, so that when those things do present themselves,” Presti said in May, “we can strike and we can try to make the team better.”
In almost every respect, the Thunder are renting George, who many believe wants to be in Los Angeles with the Lakers. But the Thunder have him for at least one season teamed with Russell Westbrook.
With George and Westbrook teamed together, the Thunder are now a difference maker and have to be reckoned with. Westbrook led the league in scoring at 31.6 a game. George was 15th at 23.7 pg.
Neither Oladipo or Sabonis seemed to be everything the Thunder had hoped during their one season in Oklahoma City. So even if George leaves after the 2017-18 season, the Thunder have cleared their books of a couple of contracts that didn’t fit.
This also opens Presti to work more magic in free agency. The Rudy Gay to Oklahoma City becomes even more viable now.
But regardless of what happens, the Thunder are back to being a relevant team. The next question is will it be enough to get Westbrook to sign a long term extension?
” I think in this cap environment, it’s going to be more a matter of, if you want to play in a max-type situation, you’re going to have to move several pieces around in order to do something like that, with no promises obviously of anything,” Presti said during exit interviews. And then the system is set up to make you have to make choices and figure that out. So you know, we’re not in a position where we’re going to be a cap space team, per se. But we’ll look at every opportunity that we can, but it’s not a matter of us necessarily extending offers to people. It’s basically people extending interest to us, you know what I’m saying, and then we can work from there.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Writer with Eyeamtruth.com