Meanwhile, the Thunder quietly let go of free agents Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey and freed up about $4.6 million in salary by replacing them with the No. 28 overall pick in the NBA Draft in Perry Jones III, plus minimum-wage free agents in Hasheem Thabeet and undrafted rookie forward Hollis Thompson.
That's all there's been for the Western Conference champions, who have a thick roster and plan to take the next step with those already on board.
“Player development is an ongoing process for us and will continue to be,” Presti said, “but what I like is the development for our players was also impacting the collective development of our team in positive ways. … We still have a long way to go. We understand that, but we have some made some improvements.”
OKC could throw its name into the Howard hopper and offer Kendrick Perkins, James Harden and Eric Maynor in a Howard sign-and-trade with Orlando, but doing so would abandon the Presti Plan and give the perception he had gone about things all wrong.
Then again, it potentially could result in an NBA title or two with a starting lineup of Howard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka, not to mention a season record for blocked shots and a high-dollar existence above the league's luxury tax.
Presti is booking that slow and steady eventually will win the race to the NBA crown, which is why the Thunder is a tortoise in a league filled with hares.
While big-market teams have the means to play Texas Hold 'em, small-market places like OKC compete as best they can by playing five-card stud.
“You gotta stick together, even when the water's a little rough,” Presti said. “Ultimately, we've got a vision for the organization that we're trying to maintain on a daily basis, but it's hard to do that and history shows that.”
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