Since the Thunder's birth four years ago this month, general manager Sam Presti has pleaded for locals to ignore how other NBA franchises go about their business.
Block out the noise. Don't overreact.
Each team's circumstances are different. Acquisitions by others might not necessarily be obtainable or desirable for OKC.
Presti had a plan when he accepted the GM position on June 7, 2007, and he's not about to alter it. His quest is for long-term competitive stability rather than short-term potential success, and he remains on that course.
Though the Thunder's success has come briskly — from a 3-29 start its initial season to the NBA Finals last season — patience remains entrenched in the franchise's process.
There is no fast-forward button to press via a big-name acquisition.
“Think big, but build small,” Presti said June 24, three days after the Miami Heat claimed the world championship by beating the Thunder 4-1. “Control the things you can control. For us, it comes down to some of those marginal gains that high-performing teams have.”
Not overreacting to what others do sounds good in theory, but how do you possibly block out the noise when so much racket is being made elsewhere?
*Since July 11, Brooklyn has committed roughly $340 million (so far) to re-signing and obtaining players, which nearly matches the $350 million an Oklahoma City-based ownership group paid to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics (and WNBA Storm) six years ago.
*The Los Angeles Lakers now have their best point guard since Magic Johnson after getting Steve Nash from Phoenix in a sign-and-trade. The Lakers also re-signed Jordan Hill, acquired Antawn Jamison and remain alive in a potential Dwight Howard trade.
*The world champion Miami Heat lured Ray Allen, the league's all-time 3-point specialist, away from their Eastern Conference rival Boston Celtics and also signed Rashard Lewis for minimum wage.
*The Celtics re-signed power forward Brandon Bass and obtained guards Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.
*The New York Knicks reacquired point guard Raymond Felton and signed future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd.
*The Los Angeles Clippers signed Grant Hill and Jamal Crawford.
Meanwhile, the Thunder quietly let go of free agents Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey and freed up about $4.6 million in salary by replacing them with the No. 28 overall pick in the NBA Draft in Perry Jones III, plus minimum-wage free agents in Hasheem Thabeet and undrafted rookie forward Hollis Thompson.
That's all there's been for the Western Conference champions, who have a thick roster and plan to take the next step with those already on board.
“Player development is an ongoing process for us and will continue to be,” Presti said, “but what I like is the development for our players was also impacting the collective development of our team in positive ways. … We still have a long way to go. We understand that, but we have some made some improvements.”
OKC could throw its name into the Howard hopper and offer Kendrick Perkins, James Harden and Eric Maynor in a Howard sign-and-trade with Orlando, but doing so would abandon the Presti Plan and give the perception he had gone about things all wrong.
Then again, it potentially could result in an NBA title or two with a starting lineup of Howard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka, not to mention a season record for blocked shots and a high-dollar existence above the league's luxury tax.
Presti is booking that slow and steady eventually will win the race to the NBA crown, which is why the Thunder is a tortoise in a league filled with hares.
While big-market teams have the means to play Texas Hold 'em, small-market places like OKC compete as best they can by playing five-card stud.
“You gotta stick together, even when the water's a little rough,” Presti said. “Ultimately, we've got a vision for the organization that we're trying to maintain on a daily basis, but it's hard to do that and history shows that.”