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Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder GM Sam Presti 'wouldn't rule out anything' during NBA Draft

That includes trading one or both first-round picks for future assets, something Presti has done only once on draft night during his tenure.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 25, 2014

photo - Scott Brooks, left, listens to general manager Sam Presti after the Thunder practice Sunday, June 10, 2012. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman
Scott Brooks, left, listens to general manager Sam Presti after the Thunder practice Sunday, June 10, 2012. Photo by Doug Hoke, The Oklahoman

Still searching for some last-minute clues about what the Thunder will do in Thursday night’s NBA Draft?

Look no further than Sam Presti’s draft history. It might reveal all you need to know about the team’s plans.

Presti, the forward-thinking Thunder general manager, has overseen seven drafts. He’s traded up in five of those drafts but a total of six times, including each of the last two occasions in which he’s had multiple first-round selections.

He again is armed with two first-round picks this year, the 21st and 29th selections.

“I wouldn’t rule out anything,” Presti said earlier this month.

Including trading one or both the picks for future assets, something Presti has done only once on draft night during his tenure.

“I think there’s a big difference between picking a player and selecting a player,” Presti said. “When you’re picking, you’re picking from not necessarily things that you want. Selection, to me, is when you’re selecting from a pool that you value. We want to be in position to select. If we’re in a position simply to pick, then we’ll probably move the pick on.”

Depending on how the first-round plays out, the Thunder could take a hard look at trading out of this year’s draft, especially with several teams devoid of any selections this year. Those teams, New York, Brooklyn, Golden State, Portland and New Orleans, all could piece together packages to entice the Thunder to ship its selections.

The Thunder and Knicks have long been linked to a deal that would send guard Iman Shumpert to OKC for one of the Thunder’s first-round picks. With Carmelo Anthony opting out of the final year of his contract, however, the possibility of that deal might now be on its death bed.

But history says the Thunder will do all it can to avoid trading out.

What Presti’s history also reveals is his ultra-aggressive philosophy of putting the Thunder in better positions to select from its desired pool. And what we’ve seen within that philosophy is Presti’s willingness to select a player higher than he was projected if that player fits the organizational culture.

Andre Roberson is on the roster today because of that approach. Presti pulled a shocker last year when he moved up three spots from 29 only to take the relatively unknown Roberson out of Colorado. He moved up by sending Golden State the 29th pick (Archie Goodwin) and cash.

In 2011 and 2012, the Thunder had only one first-round pick and stood pat at 24 and 28, respectively. But it worked out. The Thunder took Reggie Jackson in 2011 and gladly welcomed Perry Jones III when he fell in 2012.

But in 2010, we saw Presti send the 21st and 26th selections to New Orleans for the 11th pick, which became Cole Aldrich. In 2009, Presti moved up one spot, from 25 to 24, to ensure he got Byron Mullens. In 2008, he sent the 32nd and 46th selections to Detroit for the rights to 29th overall pick D.J. White. And in 2007, Presti traded Ray Allen to Boston for the rights to fifth overall pick Jeff Green.

Several factors could make shooting up the draft board much more difficult this time around. This year’s class is considered one of the best in years, with such exceptional talent at the top that teams are likely to balk at giving up their selection or require a hefty ransom. Additionally, other teams are in better positions than the Thunder to offer better picks to any team considering trading back. Phoenix, for example, owns the 14th, 18th and 27th selections. Charlotte holds the ninth and 24th spots. Chicago can barter with the 16th and 19th picks.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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