Four hundred of the top front office minds in major sports will gather in London on Wednesday afternoon for the annual Leaders in Performance summit.
It's a closed-door, invitation-only event that features a strong representation from those who operate high-level soccer clubs in the English Premier League.
But among the keynote speakers is Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who was recently asked to give a 45-minute presentation.
It's a unique opportunity for Presti and another example of the expanding global brand of Oklahoma City's only professional team.
From the event's official website, describing Presti's presentation:
“Meet Sam Presti, Executive Vice President and General Manager, as he discusses the steps, methodology and discipline that he and his staff have shown as they continue to build the tradition of the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
KENDRICK PERKINS UPDATE
Late in the first half of OKC's preseason opener, Kendrick Perkins dislocated his left ring finger while fighting for a rebound.
It was an ugly sight, with half of Perkins' finger pointing in an abnormal direction. But from the sound of it, Perkins thinks it's nothing more than a minor issue.
“It's good, it's all right,” Perkins told reporters in Manchester on Monday.
DURANT EMPATHIZES WITH BOTTOMING-OUT SIXERS
More than ever, there seems to be a growing group of NBA teams adopting the bottoming-out strategy, gutting their rosters, piling up young assets and angling for a high selection in next summer's loaded draft.
And the trendsetter for this “season of tanking” is probably the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that currently sits at the bottom of most preseason power rankings (including The Oklahoman's). Already a 48-loss team a season ago, Philly lost Andrew Bynum to free agency, traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holliday to New Orleans and got back a first-round pick (Nerlens Noel) who is still months away from returning from an ACL injury.
The Sixers have young talent and an energized new coach (former Spurs assistant Brett Brown), but 2013-14 is clearly setting up as the first stage of a massive rebuild.
And as they prepare to face the Thunder on Tuesday in a preseason game in Manchester (tip at 2 p.m. Oklahoma time on NBA TV), they'll get an up close look at a superstar and franchise that went through the same thing not too long ago.
One night after Kevin Durant was drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007, his new team shipped future Hall of Famer Ray Allen to Boston and, less than two weeks later, lost sharpshooter Rashard Lewis to the Orlando Magic.
“It was tough for me, especially coming in as a young player,” Durant told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday. “I thought I was going to play with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis when they were All-Stars every year.”
Because of that, Durant said he can empathize with some of the young Sixers, who are entering a year that might mirror the 20-62 record that KD and the Sonics went through in 2007-08.
“Every game, it was tough knowing that it was going to be hard for us to win,” Durant told the paper. “But what we did was come in and work hard every day, and know that it was going to be a process and maybe a tough year ... You just have to keep pushing through it.”
VEGAS PEGS THUNDER AS WESTERN CONFERENCE FAVORITE
Las Vegas doesn't seem too worried about Russell Westbrook's lingering knee issues. Here are SportsBook's current odds to win the Western Conference:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder — 11/4 odds
2. Los Angeles Clippers — 4/1 odds
3. San Antonio Spurs — 9/2 odds
4. Houston Rockets — 11/2 odds
5. Golden State Warriors — 13/1 odds
6. Memphis Grizzlies — 15/1 odds
7. Dallas Mavericks — 15/1 odds
8. Denver Nuggets — 22/1 odds
9. Los Angeles Lakers — 35/1 odds
10. Minnesota Timberwolves — 50/1 odds
11. New Orleans Pelicans — 50/1 odds
12. Portland Trail Blazers — 65/1 odds
13. Sacramento Kings — 90/1 odds
14. Utah Jazz — 90/1 odds
15. Phoenix Suns — 250/1 odds
Kevin Durant, when asked if he'd spoken to Russell Westbrook about his rehab recently: “The only conversation I had with him is about his (Dallas) Cowboys taking a 'L' last night.”