Share “Sam Presti Calls Phil Jackson Rumors...”

Thunder Rumblings  


Sam Presti Calls Phil Jackson Rumors “Rubbish”

by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 24, 2012

News, notes and nuggets from Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s season-ending interview Sunday.

  • This should put to bed rumors about the Thunder’s alleged interest in Phil Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. “To me, it’s rubbish,” Presti said.
  • Presti again expressed the team’s desire to bring back Scott Brooks, calling Brooks’ contract extension “tops on our list.” “As we’ve said before,” Presti said, “Scotty is an integral part of our organization and critical to our success. And we value him greatly. We’re looking forward to having those conversations, as he said, in the coming days. But he’s been integral to our success. We wouldn’t be in the situation that we’re in without him and his commitment to the organization and to our players.”
  • Not trying to set expectations here, just stating my opinion. I think Brooks’ deal gets done in the next two weeks.
  • Presti: “I think we evolved in some key areas that we talked about starting the season, execution, communication, just the finer points of the game. We still have a long way to go. We understand that. But we have made some improvements. Awareness is the first sign of improvement, and I think our awareness from the last postseason run helped us coming into this season to improve in those areas.”
  • Presti said he thinks the team played its best basketball during the San Antonio series. “I think we showed what we’re capable of, that level” Presti said. “Now it’s our job to capture that and make that a standard of performance as we go into next season.”
  • Asked about his impressions of the Thunder’s performance in the NBA Finals, Presti was fairly candid. “I don’t think we played our best basketball,” Presti said. “But I also think that has a lot to do with Miami. You have to tip your cap to them. They played fantastic, and they were the better team.”
  • Naturally, I grew curious to know which series Presti thought was more of a reflection of where the team currently is in its development, the San Antonio series or the Miami series. Unfortunately, he didn’t really answer the question directly. He just repeated his previous answer. “I think that what we’ve shown is what we’re capable of,” Presti said. “I think we can play at an incredibly high level. That’s a credit to our coaches and our players.”
  • Presti: “We’ve always talked about sustaining success as being the goal for our organization in addition to building an enduring organization. It’s a lot easier, in my opinion, to find or achieve success than it is to ultimately sustain it. If you just look at the history of pro sports, the data will show you that.”
  • Presti on what makes it so difficult to sustain success. “There’s a lot more voices,” he said. “There’s a lot more forces at work to try to make it more difficult to focus on the things that have allowed you to achieve that level of success.”
  • Presti did say that he liked a lot of what happened defensively in the Heat series. He called them “impactful for our team.”
  • One of the most interesting things about the Thunder’s identity this season was that it really didn’t have an identity. I’m talking playing style. OKC could play big, it could play small, it could play fast and, sometimes, yes, the Thunder even showed the capacity to play slow. Presti chimed in on the big v. small lineups. “There’s more than one way to win a game, especially in the Western Conference,” he said. “You’re going to have to be able to play big. You’re going to have to be able to play small. And I credit Scott for his ability to look at things creatively and to be open-minded about how best to attack and solve problems.”
  • Presti when asked if the Thunder is willing to dip into the luxury tax to retain its core: “Obviously, we have to look at everything. We got to understand the dynamics that we’re facing. We understand there’s going to be some challenges ahead, some tough challenges ahead. That’s part of our process internally to understand the effect of that, not only on the team but also on the franchise. But what I can tell you is we’re going to do everything we can to make it work. We’re going to put everything toward it.”
  • I took that last answer as a huge positive. You could look at it the complete opposite way and conclude that Presti simply is saying he has to study the salary cap first and get back to us. But in my mind, the front office and ownership is prepared to pony up. Besides, the Thunder would potentially be in the tax for only two seasons — Kendrick Perkins‘ final two years. Maybe that’s a reality the franchise already has come to grips with. Maybe not.
  • Presti: “Quite frankly, if we could shake everybody’s hand that was at the airport…when we came back from Miami the other day, I sincerely mean we would. Those people are incredibly passionate about our team, and we’re incredibly passionate about them. And in Oklahoma City, that matters.”
  • Where I grew up, we had a saying. “Don’t talk about it, be about it.” While his business is a completely different walk of life, nobody believes in that old saying like Presti. “It’s important for us as an organization,” Presti said, “to be more focused on how we’re going to do things versus talking about what we’re going to do. What’s easy to say is usually hard to do. And in this case, what serves this organization best is doing the work, investing in each other, investing in the process itself and letting the outcomes fall where they may.”
  • Presti: “I think it’s important for us going into next season that we have to turn the page. We have to think big, but we have to build small.”
  • Perk spoke to reporters earlier in the day, and the first thing Presti said as he sat down for his interview was “Me being up here after Kendrick is like following The Who.”
  • Presti was asked about his reaction to hearing James Harden and Eric Maynor on Saturday speak up about the need for sacrifice. “The first thing that jumps into my head with that is really the players have built something in terms of our environment and our culture where they feel ownership over that, and they should. The guys have done an unbelievable job of establishing a standard internally that we work by on a day-to-day basis. And the fact that they’ve done that and they want to continue to work through that is a credit to them.”
  • More from Presti on the upcoming extension talks for Harden, Maynor and Serge Ibaka: “We’re looking forward to having those conversations. Those guys obviously care a lot about the organization, and they care a lot about playing here and I think very much about winning. But at the end of the day, those are personal decisions. We’re not ones to judge anyone in those respects. We’re going to do what we can to try to make it work for them and to make it work for us.”
  • Presti on Harden’s use of the word ‘dynasty’ yesterday: “I didn’t realize James was such an aficionado of 80s television.”
  • Tibor Pleiss has signed a long-term deal with the Spanish club Caja Laboral. He will not join the Thunder next season, and he will not compete with the Thunder in summer league. For those that don’t know, Pleiss is a 7-foot-1 center who was selected 31st overall in the 2010 draft. For the past two seasons, he played professionally in his native Germany. Pleiss is still just 22 and is said to have established himself as one of the most promising big men in Europe. He now will remain overseas and continue his development. One one hand, that’s a positive for the Thunder from the standpoint that he has a chance to be a more polished player whenever he does come across the water. But it also could be a drawback because continued improvement by Pleiss will only drive up his price. Remember, he was a second-round pick, which doesn’t subject him to the first-round rookie scale. Even if the Thunder can get him over without difficulty down the road (think Ricky Rubio), there’s the possibility that OKC might not be able to afford his price tag (think Tiago Splitter). Stay tuned.
  • Don’t bother asking me. I have no idea if Pleiss can actually play. Some say he’s the next Dirk Nowitzki. I highly doubt that.
  • Presti on Pleiss’ signing overseas: “He did sign a contract in Spain for Caja Laboral, which is one of the top teams in Spain in the ACB. We think it’s great for him. I think he’s only going to improve as a player by playing there. We’re very encouraged by his development. But I think the decision for him was to continue to play in Europe and give himself an opportunity to improve so that when he comes to the NBA he’ll be ready to contribute. And we support that.”
  • Multiple outlets have reported that the Thunder has a verbal agreement with Russian big man Andrey Vorontsevich. Aside from the fact that a handshake deal would be completely illegal considering, I have no idea who Andrey Vorontsevich is. He plays for CSKA Moscow, and was on the team that came and played the Thunder in a preseason game a few years back. Presti, of course, didn’t provide any insight at all into where he stands with the Thunder, whether he’ll sign or what. “He’s a player that I think a lot of NBA teams have some interest in. But he plays for them. He has a contract with them. If he were to come to the United States it would have to be a free agent deal, and that would have to happen after July 1.”
  • Competing on the Thunder’s summer league team in Orlando will be Lazar Hayward, Cole Aldrich and Reggie Jackson, as well as friend of the program Latavious Williams, the 48th overall pick in 2010 whose draft rights were acquired by the Thunder from Miami on draft night.
  • Presti on the draft: “We have the 28th pick, and we’re going to look to see what’s there that we might be able to add to our team, whether it’s now or in the future. I wouldn’t say that we’re looking to move our draft pick. I’ve read that some places. If there’s a player on the board that we feel like fits our organization, fits our identity, we’ll draft him. If we feel like there’s a better way to use the draft pick, then we’ll look at that.”
  • Presti essentially said it’s too early to determine whether the team will bring back Derek Fisher.
  • Presti on Fisher’s contributions: “Whether Derek is with us next season or not, he’ll be with us in the sense that he has left an impact with a ripple effect on our team. I’d equate it to dropping a stone in the water. The ripple effect is going to be felt for years to come because of how he approaches his craft, his professionalism and his class. He is the type of person you want representing your organization, and I think he had a positive impact on all of our players. And I think all of our players will carry something with them from the way he handled himself.”
  • Presti talking about the Thunder bringing together Bedlam fans. “When we arrived in 2008, we didn’t realize that we were in the middle of this color issue,” Presti said. “We kind of didn’t realize that. The fact that we’re bridging that gap, we’re certainly happy about that.”
  • Presti talked a little bit about losing another front office member in Rob Hennigan, who took the Orlando general manager job. “We look at it as a real positive that those guys are having an opportunity to move on,” Presti said.
  • Is it easier or harder to talk trades with former colleagues like Hennigan and Rich Cho who are now GMs elsewhere? “A lot of people would assume that it’s easier,” Presti said. “I find the hardest part of that process is when you’re transitioning the conversation from personal to professional and often times you’re kind of looking at things the same way to a certain degree.”


1 Show / Hide Archive Comments

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
+ show more


  1. 1
    Tulsa man gets life without parole for igniting fire that resulted in 5-year-old's death
  2. 2
    Police seek shooters after driver injured by gunshots crashes car in north Tulsa neighborhood
  3. 3
    Real ID poses potential real problems for those with Oklahoma driver's licenses
  4. 4
    Charged Owasso police officer surrenders, appears in Nowata County District Court
  5. 5
    Hillary Clinton just laid out a sweeping gun-control plan
+ show more


× Trending thunder Article