Presti Talks Draft Lottery
General manager Sam Presti had a 14 1/2 minute teleconference following Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery. The Thunder moved up a spot and got the third pick in the draft, and Presti talked about the prospects that are expected to be available at No. 3, whether he’s open to trading the pick, whether to move up or down, and what it was like to be locked in the room where all the magic happened. The transcript is quite long, but I’ll post it in its entirity.
SP: Well first, we’re thrilled as an organization to be picking third. We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us to add a player that we think can grow with our team as we continue to build the franchise. It’s a great day for our fans. We’re truly excited for them as well because this will be their inaugural draft. We’ll welcome another player into the Thunder family, and our fans have been incredibly supportive throughout the season and continue to be. So we’re ready to start to get to work, get to know this group of players on a more intimate level and we’re thrilled that we moved up a spot.
Q: What is the likelihood that you will examine a trade, whether up or down?
A: At this point in the year we’re charged with examining everything. We’ll take calls. We’ll make calls. It’s like that every year. This year we’ll approach it the same way that we have every year, which is we’ll take a look at everything and ultimately decide what’s best for the organization.
Q: What are your early impressions of Hasheem Thabeet and do you think he could be what this team needs as far as interior defense?
A: We’ve followed him as we have all the players in the draft and we’ll continue to study him more. He’s had a nice career in college and he’s someone that we’ll look at in the group of players that we continue to study. Much will be said up until the draft about players will go here and players will go there. I can tell you that we won’t have it all figured out. We continue to do our work, collect information and on the 25th we’ll be ready to make a pick.
Q: Is comparing Thabeet to Tyson Chandler a fair comparison?
A: I really don’t get into comparing guys from college with guys that have been in the league for a long time. I think we just have to continue to evaluate the players on their own merit. And we’ll take a look at what fits for our organization and our team. As I’ve said before we’re pretty excited about the fact that we’re going to add a player that we feel like has the opportunity to grow with our team and our organization. So tonight was a pretty exciting night having moved up a spot in the lottery.
Q: What was it like behind the scenes being locked in the room?
A: It was an interesting experience with how the process is done. It’s a lot of numbers (laughs). But it’s exciting because you walk out of the room and you have clarity on where you’re picking. And it’s a great starting point for our staff. We’ve got a great scouting staff, a group of people that are concentrating on finding players that fit our organization and fit our identity. And I’m really excited to work with them as the draft really begins to pick up steam now.
Q: Knowing where you were picking, did you have any empathy for Scott Brooks who is thinking he might get No. 1?
A: It was kind of funny knowing the outcome ahead of time. It was kind of tough. But once you get into that top three in any draft you know that you’re having a good night. I was excited for Scott. I think he represents so many of the things that we want to be. And he has passion for this organization, especially his passion for the vision of this basketball team. Knowing that we’re going to add a player that he’s going to have a chance to coach and build a relationship with and put in the mix with our other players, it was fun to watch him on stage.
Q: Can you speak to the leverage the third pick could possibly give you if you wanted to make a trade and move up?
A: I don’t want to sound too obvious, but having the third pick is a lot better than having the fourth. And when you have three you wish you had two. But this is definitely a great position for us to be in. I think we’ll definitely get some phone calls and we’ll have some options. We also like the group of players that will be there. I’m excited because this is a fun time of year for our organization. We feel like we have a good energy to what we’re doing, and having a chance to pick third only helps push the momentum behind what we’re trying to accomplish in Oklahoma City.
Q: Can you give me your impressions of Jordan Hill and James Harden?
A: Both are good players, had good college careers. We’re excited to meet those guys in addition to Hasheem. And we’ll look at several other players. But in terms of getting into the specifics, clearly that’s not something that we can do. I’m sure you guys will have plenty to say and write about that in the next couple of weeks. But we’re just excited to be in the position that we are.
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