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More confirmation Sam Presti is a genius

by Jenni Carlson Published: March 1, 2011
Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager, talks about yesterday's player trades at a news conference in the Thunder practice facility, Friday afternoon, Feb. 25, 2011. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Is this man a genius? Seems so. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

Just when you thought Thunder general manager Sam Presti couldn’t earn any more cool points, he goes and signs Kendrick Perkins to a contract extension.

It’s another stroke of genius.

Everyone expected the Thunder to have to wait until the summer to try and resign the newly acquired big man. Perkins’ contract is up at the end of the season, and he previously rejected a four-year, $22 million extension from the Celtics. But after the Thunder dealt for him before the trade deadline last week, it had until March 1 to renegotiate his deal.

Under the current collective bargaining agreement, teams can’t negotiate player contracts between March 1 and June 30.

The Thunder had a very short window to even discuss a renegotiation with Perkins, much less get it done.

But that’s exactly what Presti did.

It’s another nod to the expertise and the acumen that the talented Mr. Presti has brought to Oklahoma City. Few folks could have gotten this deal done. Most would’ve faced the possibility of losing Perkins after the season when any team in the NBA could’ve made a play for his services.

Now, the Thunder have what looks to be one of the big missing pieces to a championship puzzle.

Want more evidence of Presti’s brilliance?

The Thunder was near the limit on the salary cap before the trade deadline, but with the deals it did, sending Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic to Boston and D.J. White and Mo Peterson to Charlotte, it opened up about $2 million of salary cap space in this current year. That gave it the ability to renegotiate Perkins’ contract, something that couldn’t have been done unless his current deal was being increased and the team had the salary cap room to do it.

No doubt Presti saw this move as a possibility when he did all those other moves last week.

It’s a little like chess. The person who’s able to think the furthest ahead is usually the most likely to win.

Presti is that guy.

In the sports world, we often are so wrapped up in the Xs and Os that we forget that true genius at the pro level comes down to executives who are able to be part accountant, part lawyer, part financial planner, part diplomat and part visionary. It takes a unique skill set to excel as a general manager, and thus far, it’s safe to say that Presti has that skill set and then some.

In Sam we trust?

No doubt about it.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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