Sam Presti on Sunday shot down speculation that the Thunder could target Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy for the team's coaching duties should a contract extension with Scott Brooks not come together.
“To me, it's rubbish,” said Presti, the Thunder's general manager, when asked about recent reports listing the two former coaches as possibilities.
Brooks' contract expires Saturday. But the two sides postponed negotiations while the team was competing in the NBA Finals. Now that the season has concluded, Presti called Brooks' contract the organization's top priority.
And, again, Presti stressed during his season-ending news conference with reporters how valuable he believes Brooks has been in helping to build the Thunder.
“As we've said before, Scotty is an integral part of our organization and critical to our success,” Presti said. “And we value him greatly. We're looking forward to having those conversations, as he said, in the coming days. But he's been integral to our success. We wouldn't be in the situation that we're in without him and his commitment to the organization and to our players.”
Jackson, an 11-time championship coach, is now retired but has said he'd be open to returning to coach the right team. Van Gundy, who Brooks played for during the 1996-97 season, is now an analyst for ESPN.
PLEISS SIGNS IN SPAIN
Tibor Pleiss, a 7-foot-1 German center who the Thunder acquired on draft night in 2010, has signed with the Spanish club Caja Laboral.
Pleiss was the 31st overall pick who, for a time, appeared to be joining the Thunder for next season. Instead, Pleiss, 22, reportedly penned a four-year contract in Spain and will remain overseas to continue his development.
The contract contains standard buyout options, which could free Pleiss to join the Thunder before his contract expires with Caja Laboral.
“We think it's great for him,” Presti said. “I think he's only going to improve as a player by playing there. We're very encouraged by his development. But I think the decision for him was to continue to play in Europe and give himself an opportunity to improve so that when he comes to the NBA he'll be ready to contribute. And we support that.”
PERKINS DOWNPLAYS GROIN INJURY
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins acknowledged Sunday that he played with a partially torn groin throughout parts of the postseason, but he said the injury wasn't much of an issue since the second round.