With training camp opening this weekend, Thunder general manager Sam Presti sat down for his annual state of the organization address with media members on Wednesday.
Presti touched on a variety of subjects, ranging from Russell Westbrook's health to Serge Ibaka's potential growth to the NBA's new jersey trends.
Here are some highlights:
Q: With Russell's situation, how involved do you expect him to be in training camp?
A: “He'll be able to go through the parts that he's cleared for. I'm hesitant right now to say exactly what he'll be able to do a week from the first day. But I will tell you that he'll be going through parts of camp starting on the first day. With that being said, when you're dealing with rehabilitation, it's a day to day thing because you're constantly retraining the body to do things it has not done in a while. So there'll be some good days, probably some setbacks as well, but he'll be able to do a lot out on the floor early on. Once he's meeting those thresholds and meeting those benchmarks, that workload will increase.”
Are you surprised that it's taken this long for him to be cleared?
“First and foremost, the most important thing is he's healing properly, and all signs point to that. We were very hesitant to give a specific timetable because when you're dealing with injuries, recovery time, everybody's different.”
Is there at least the possibility that Russell will not be ready for the start of the regular season?
“I wouldn't say that he will be, and I wouldn't say that he won't be. Again, we've got to see how the next month goes. Beyond that, I'm just projecting on things that I have no business projecting on. We're going to trust the medical team. Russell will be ready to go once he's cleared. This is an important player for us not only this year but for many years down the line, and we'll be operating with that in mind.”
What have you seen from Kendrick Perkins this offseason, and what do you expect from him during this season ahead?
“Obviously he has high standards for himself, and he expressed those at the end of last season. He makes up part of the group and part of the continuity that's been around for quite some time, and he's been a part of the best team that we've had here. We expect him to continue to be an elite post defender. We expect him to impact the play of some of the top-tier centers in the league, especially those in the Western Conference. He's going to impact our team in other ways as well, and we've said that before. It's always hard to answer those questions without sounding defensive, other than to say Perk is a part of the success that we've had here. He's an important member of the team. We expect him to fill the role that he's given and contribute.”
With all the different uniform experiments being talked about (sleeves, nicknames, etc.), are you guys doing any of that? And when it comes to that, is that a team decision or the league?
“When it comes to the sleeves the league has input on that. I don't know what I'm allowed to say on that particular issue, but there's a chance that we may end up wearing sleeves during the year. When, I can't tell you that. Other than that, there will be no other additional changes.”
You mentioned Serge coming in last night for a grueling personal workout. Any insights you can give into some of the things he's working on and improved in the offseason?
“I think he's always going to be a presence defensively for us. Statistically, that's relatively proven his impact on the team. But, I think consistently working on spreading the floor, making shots, again playing around the rim. There are so many arteries to his game that I think will continue to be developed over time. He's still a very young basketball player. Just because we've been seeing him on a more regular basis doesn't make him less likely to improve.”
Will you still wear those alternate navy blues?
“Yeah, we'll continue to do that on selected nights.”
Regarding the rookies, are these young guys already ticketed to Tulsa, or will they have a shot to make the rotation?
“I think it's way too early to determine who will see time in Tulsa. I do think it's safe to say that we'll always look to utilize it because it's a big part of our organization primarily because the development of players is really essential for our ability to sustain a high level team for a period of years, which is what we're aiming to do. It's too early to designate how Steven (Adams) and Andre (Roberson) will be utilized. That's obviously going to take its own form and Scott (Brooks) has to make decisions about the roles of the players and the positions they're put in and things of that nature. But we feel really good about the summers that both those guys had. They're workers, they understand what it means to play here, they both have a really good feel for who they are as players and they also understand they have a lot of work to do. When we drafted them, there were no secrets about that, but we're excited that both of them are in the program.”
How much effect do the new Sports View cameras going into every arena this year have on scouting, and how much data do you think you can gather from that?
“I think that everybody having the cameras is a positive thing because it increases the amount of data that is available for everybody. How everybody uses that data, how confident everybody is with the data and at which point they use it that's up to the individual team. Obviously, it's a positive for the league, it's an advancement, but every team has got to figure out the way they interpret and use that information.”