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Main event: Sam Presti, Thunder shopping for NBA free agent bargains

Mike Baldwin Published: June 29, 2009

NBA teams can begin negotiating with free agents Tuesday night at midnight.

Thunder fans should be forewarned: it's unlikely general manager Sam Presti will make a major splash for three reasons:

1.) Presti wants ample salary cap space for when Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook are due major pay raises.

2.) The plan is to allow young players to grow together instead of acquiring veterans that could provide immediate help.

3.) Presti essentially purchased two "free agents" when he signed Nenad Krstic last December and traded for Thabo Sefolosha in February.

"We've been fortunate to create some (salary cap) flexibility," Presti said. "But at the same time, we'll continue to be methodical about decisions on how we build our team.

"We feel good about the position we're in. We think we have a young group of guys that work hard and like playing with each other. But it's our job to explore ways to maximize the group. That's part of the process in free agency."

Forget about Oklahoma City signing a big-name free agent such as Hedo Turkoglu or Ben Gordon.

But because of economic concerns, there could be some bargains among the 148 free agents, including 41 restricted free agents.

Players who might interest Presti are restricted free agents, young players with upside. In those cases, that player's current team has the opportunity to match the Thunder's offer.

"You can sign players, but I also think there will be opportunities via trade," Presti said. "But it's not going to be prudent to let restlessness be our nemesis. We need to approach this summer with an eye toward the future as well as the present."


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