Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti offers incremental updates on his team each season. He broke away for 15 minutes prior to Saturday night's contest against the New York Knicks inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The beginning of this season has been crazy for everyone. How crazy do you think it has been for coach Scott Brooks?
"Scott deserves a tremendous amount of credit for keeping our guys focused in such a unique year. Scott has done a great job of identifying the core principals that we'll try to improve upon as the year goes on. I think you just have to grind that out and periodically look back and evaluate where you are."
What, if anything, have you done differently with a 66-game schedule?
"Our organization is a collection of people who embrace the daily grind. I feel really fortunate to come to work with a group of people who have a common vision, who understand that to sustain success in the NBA is a process, not an event. We're going to have to continue to work at it and stick together as we go through that."
A 10-2 record in the first 18 days. Not bad.
"We're certainly pleased, but not content. As I said before, Scott and the players deserve a lot of credit for coming into the season prepared to get started on the right foot, but we all know the season is a marathon and not a sprint and we're going to have to maintain a high level of focus and discipline."
Couldn't you consider playing 66 games in 118 days a sprint?
"You can definitely look at it that way. Any way you look at it, an NBA schedule is going to present all potential challenges. It's such a competitive league, that's why I believe the players deserve a lot of respect, to prepare themselves physically and mentally for anything that might happen over those 66 games."
Other than the usual reactions to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the biggest difference from last year is the acceptance of Kendrick Perkins, the man you traded for last Feb. 24.
"I'm certainly happy for Kendrick, but I'm not surprised because his body of work as an NBA player has been one of a no-frills competitor and a guy who gives you an honest day's work each time on the floor. There are a lot of guys who wouldn't have taken the floor last year not being as highly conditioned as he wanted to be (after knee surgery). That was a sign of his competitiveness."
What can you tell us about Eric Maynor? How is he holding up mentally after his season-ending knee injury?
"I think one of our greatest strengths as a team is the family atmosphere that's been cultivated over time by our players and how we stick with each other. Eric certainly has received an enormous amount of support from his teammates, his coaches, the community. Eric is one of the most strong-minded people I know. I think he'll certainly be tremendous as he comes back from this injury."
Losing Maynor for the season, will that affect anything you do with the team structurally?
"Certainly it's tough when you lose anybody on your team. By the same token, that's part of sports and this group has to move forward. We're confident in this group we have now, and that's why you have 15 players on a team."
Rookie point guard Reggie Jackson was thrown to the wolves having to replace Maynor. He missed training camp with a groin strain and a pulled lower abdominal and literally has had to learn on the fly.
"As we've seen with all young players who have come through our organization, there are going to be some ups and downs. How they manage those is an important evaluation point. Reggie's preparation, despite limited practice time and opportunity, has really helped put him in a position to try and manage those peaks and valleys. I think our coaching staff again deserves a lot of credit recognizing in a season like this you're going to need everybody."