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John Rohde: Let the free-agent speculation begin

By John Rohde Modified: May 4, 2010 at 6:27 am •  Published: May 4, 2010

The NBA Draft unfolds before your eyes. You immediately see which team picks which player.

Free agency is far more clandestine. A player’s final destination does not evolve in the public eye.

There is an evaluation process leading up to the draft. In free agency, the evaluation process already is complete, which culminates with a team courting a particular player.

In the draft, first-round salaries are slotted. In free agency, it helps tremendously if you’re the highest bidder.

The Thunder has the No. 21, No. 26, No. 32 and No. 51 picks in the June 24 draft in New York City. These selections obviously could fluctuate between now and then.

Exactly where does the Thunder stand in the free-agent market? Who is the Thunder eying, and at what cost?

NBA teams are allowed to talk to eligible players and their agents beginning July 1. Thunder general manager Sam Presti is likely to come down with cauliflower ear due to overuse of his cell phone.

Presti suffers from NBAOCD — National Basketball Association Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder — which I mean in the nicest way possible.

"Everybody, for the most part, is talking to everybody. It’s part of the process,” Presti said during his 34-minute news conference Monday.

Presti explained the Thunder might inquire about free agent Player A, but actually could end up being more interested in Player B. Even if the Thunder has no intention of obtaining a free agent, Presti no doubt will stay in the loop. He will have his finger on the pulse.

"You evaluate your options because you have to be able to communicate in order to learn about what might be out there and what opportunities could be there,” Presti said. "There are a lot of conversations. It wouldn’t be shocking that certain players might get calls from 25 teams. That doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has zeroed in on one person, but that’s part of the process.

"Part of my job is to always look to improve the team, and you’ve got to be active — at least in communication — to understand what’s going on out there.