Just got off a teleconference with Sam Presti. The Thunder’s general manager addressed his team’s needs going into tomorrow night’s NBA Draft, why the organization hired a Spanish law firm, what they could possibly do with the 25th selection and the newest rumor that has the Thunder trading up to get the 14th overall pick from Phoenix.
Presti was asked about what he learned from his meeting with Ricky Rubio last week and whether he is more comfortable with the situation after examining his contract, but he called the situation an “internal matter.” Presti was also asked about Russell Westbrook’s comments in ESPN The Magazine, but because he was unaware of the context of the question he felt it was inappropriate to comment on Westbrook’s comments. Presti did reiterate that Westbrook is a team-first guy, a competitor and a winner and has always been that way.
With that, I give you a transcript of your general manager’s thoughts on Thursday night’s draft.
Q: Can you talk about your areas of need are heading into Thursday? What are the areas you’ll be looking to address as you head into tomorrow?
A: We’re always looking for ways to improve the team, and the draft is another opportunity for us to take a step forward as an organization. Hopefully add a player or players to the team that we feel like have a chance to grow with us and continue to grow with the team that we have in place. I wouldn’t say that we’re going in looking to fulfill every need that we have as a ball club in one night. I don’t think that would be realistic. But we’re going to look to try to get a little bit better on Thursday night and ultimately see if we can add another piece to the puzzle.
Q: Can you say in any specific nature in terms of you guys needing more interior defense or more shooters, things that you may be looking for in these players that you will draft?
A: As a ball club that didn’t make the playoffs last year and obviously didn’t have the kind of success that we’d like to have from a win-loss standpoint, we’ve got a lot of needs. We’re no different than a lot of teams in the NBA. We’d love to be able to continue to add shooting and continue to improve our defense and continue to play more efficient basketball. That’s important to us. Like I said, we’re not going to address everything in one night. And one thing that I think is important for us organizationally, and maybe beyond the draft on Thursday, is the continued development and improvement from our players on our current roster. As we know we’ve got a younger team. And with younger teams, summertime is an important time for development. And Scott and his group have made a very consistent and conscious effort to hold a real sense of accountability for individual development and ultimately team development. So we’re looking forward to that being an important part to our summer and our overall improvement.
Q: Did you guys hire a Spanish law firm, and if so, what for?
A: I believe that the report was confirmed from the team. And secondly we want to be as thorough as we possibly can as we prepare for the draft in all aspects. It’s not specific to one piece of information that was reported.
Q: Should the fans read into that decision in any way? The Thunder is the only team that has reportedly hired a Spanish law firm.
A: I can’t speak for any other team. Our focus is on being as prepared as we can for this draft.
Q: You got a chance to look at Ricky Rubio’s contract while in Los Angeles last week. What did you learn about it?
A: Those are internal matters. So I wouldn’t have any comment on that.
Q: Did you walk away with a more comforting feeling about whatever you learned?
A: Again, I wouldn’t have any comment on that.
Q: You haven’t announced having many of the top projected picks in locally. Can you talk about how you’ve been able to gather information, even traveling around to see these guys and what you’ve been doing to do your analysis of them since they haven’t been here locally.
A: We’re comfortable with where we are in the process at this point with the draft in terms of our preparation and our information. And we feel very comfortable in terms of the ability to make a decision at the appropriate time. In terms of where we’ve been and what we’ve done, we’re no different than any other team in terms of either bringing players into our city or at times traveling to meet them in different places. But we’ve had ample amount of time to evaluate players throughout the season and in prior seasons as well. This time of the year is just continued information gathering, but not necessarily our only opportunity to compile information on the prospects.
Q: Would you mind addressing the second pick that you guys have and how different it is at that point in the draft determining what you’ll do at that point? Is there a much, much wider pool of players that you have to prepare for?
A: I guess the best way to answer that is, 25, that’s a pick that is kind of evolving as the draft plays itself out. And you just need to be ready for several different scenarios. There’s no way to have it pegged completely. You just have to be ready to adapt. But your preparation is the same no matter where it is that you’re picking. And we’re confident that when that pick comes around there’ll be someone there that we feel like can help us or we’ll be able to utilize the pick in a way that will benefit the team.
Q: I know you don’t comment on rumors, but this newest ESPN one sounds so bogus I was hoping you could either shoot it down or say something about it. It has you guys trading the 25th and next year’s Phoenix first-rounder back to them for the 14th this year or something along those lines. I just didn’t see how that made any sense and was wondering if you could comment on that.
A: I’m not aware of what you’re talking about so I really can’t speak to it.