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Hype, rumors didn't sway Thunder GM Sam Presti's draft decision

JOHN ROHDE Published: June 27, 2009
As the clock inched past midnight Thursday, the last place Thunder general manager Sam Presti wanted to be was precisely where he was at that particular moment: In front of reporters, answering questions.

For the better part of two months, these media folk who surrounded Presti essentially told him what to think and whom to pick for that night’s NBA Draft.

Like all good general managers, Presti wisely ignored what was hashed and rehashed.

"We can’t pay attention to that,” Presti said of rumor, innuendo and flat-out falsities that arise at the end of each spring. "We have to focus on what we’re doing.”

Presti picked Arizona State shooting guard James Harden with the No. 3 pick; traded up one spot to get Ohio State center B.J. Mullens, who was picked No. 24 by Dallas; and acquired the rights at No. 54 to UAB shooting guard Robert Vaden from Charlotte for cash considerations.

On the yawn scale of 1 to 10, this might register around 6 or 7, but Presti addressed the Thunder’s two biggest needs — a shooter and a post player.

There was no spike in Thunder season-ticket sales Friday morning, but that doesn’t mean the team didn’t get better Thursday night.

There was far more substance than flash with whom the Thunder selected, which helps define the "Presti Way” a little more each day.

Presti knows what he wants and how to get it.

Most people strive to be that way, but so few are.

"What it boils down to is we have to make decisions that are not affected or impacted by what might be the most exciting or ‘grand-slam’ thing,” Presti explained. "We have to make decisions based on our core values and what we think is important.”

Fans can dive head-first into reported rumors gathered by the folks at, but you get the distinct impression Presti doesn’t wade into those waters.

"If you understand how much of what’s being reported about your team and how much of that is actually bogus, then you know not to listen to stuff about other people’s teams,” Presti said.


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