Here’s a transcript of a brief interview I did with Thunder GM Sam Presti following the two deadline-day trades made by the team on Thursday.
Real quick. Ronnie Brewer will not play tonight against Minnesota. He’s still making his way to OKC and must pass his physical. The team is targeting Sunday against Chicago for Brewer to make his Thunder debut. Also, Brewer will wear No. 8. He has worn No. 11 and No. 9 in the past. But those numbers are taken by Jeremy Lamb and Serge Ibaka.
On to the Q&A.
Q: What made you go after Ronnie Brewer, and how long have you had your eye on him?
A: I think the opportunity to add a player like Ronnie without dipping into our immediate player rotation was something we feel like we needed to pursue. He brings a defensive mind-set, versatility as a perimeter defender, and he comes in with over 300 games started. But more impressive to us is the fact that he’s played for some organizations that we really have a lot of respect for. In addition to that, he’s a high-character, hard-working individual that we feel like is going to fit well with our current group.
Q: How much of a factor did the team’s recent defensive struggles play in acquiring Ronnie?
A: I think that we’ve consistently said that in order to be a consistent team and a team that plays at the highest end of the spectrum, we’ve got to be an elite defensive team. So we’re always looking for opportunities to add versatile defenders. Players with length. Athletes. Those are the types of individuals that we’re going to look to be opportunistic to add because we feel like they fit our profile. And we want to continue to build a very versatile team so that Scott and the coaching staff has options throughout the course of a season, game or a series.
Q: How do you envision Ronnie fitting in?
A: Ronnie’s a guy that we feel fits with our core group, both on the court and off the court. In terms of how he’s going to be integrated or utilized, our focus is to provide Scott (Brooks) with as many options, as much flexibility in our roster, for him to use. In terms of minutes and roles, those are things that have to be determined by Scotty. Our job is to support his decisions.
Q: Was there any part of you that made this trade with Miami in mind, figuring that you could go small or just have another defender against LeBron James if you meet in the Finals again?
A: Well, I think just in today’s NBA one of the things that is certainly valued is versatility. And for our team, a team that wants to continually improve defensively and establish a standard of play on both ends of the floor, we want to try to be as flexible and versatile in styles of play as possible. But we certainly aren’t looking at one particular team because what’s served us well as an organization and as a team is to always focus on the next day. And if we’re starting to look at things down the line, I think that would be inconsistent and probably inappropriate for us.
Q: What can you tell fans about the trade exception that you got in the Eric Maynor trade?
A: Well obviously Eric is someone that we think very highly of, and I think he’s going to be a very productive player in the NBA for years to come. But we also recognize that he was going to have opportunities at the end of the season as a free agent, and we had to figure out the best way to maximize that situation given that he wasn’t playing on a consistent basis with us. The trade exception essentially gives us flexibility in terms of roster building, again, to try to make additions to our core group without infringing on that group. It’s going to give us flexibilities during the draft and also as we head into free agency. We’ll try to be as creative as possible, but we’re also going to be very disciplined with it.
Q: The last time you had a trade exception was when you traded Byron Mullens to Charlotte. It went unused and expired.
A: Yeah, that expired earlier this season. We did take a look at a couple of things. It’s part of our job to do our due diligence. But sometimes when you’re looking at opportunities and evaluating them, you’ve got to show some discipline. And what we want to try to do is be very methodical, very thoughtful in each decision we make. Just because we have an asset doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to use it unless it really makes sense for us and what we’re trying to establish.
Q: What and when can we expect something to happen with the final roster spot?
A: I’m going to sit down with Troy (Weaver) and Scott and spend some time working through that and figuring out what direction we want to go. But it’s something that we want to evaluate, and I think we will look to do something in the future.