If we’ve learned anything about Presti through the years, though, it’s that his creativity can never be underestimated. Still, the numerous challenges of moving up this year are what make it impossible to overlook the possibility of the Thunder trading out.
There is one potential saving grace — LeBron James opting out of the final two years of his contract with the Miami Heat.
Teams might now look to slash players and shed payroll for a shot at signing James. It could create a trickle-down effect upon which Presti has proved he won’t hesitate to pounce.
Remember, James might not have been able take his talents to South Beach had it not been for Presti. A day before the 2010 draft, and just weeks before James produced the NBA’s most scrutinized “decision,” Presti traded the 32nd overall pick to Miami for Daequan Cook and that year’s 18th overall pick. It was a haul for the Thunder and part of a necessary fire sale by the Heat, who had to cut salary to make room for the eventual signings of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Should the Clippers, Rockets, Mavs or Bulls enter the latest LeBron sweepstakes, every complementary piece on those rosters would become expendable, allowing clever GMs like Presti opportunities to ride the wave and acquire quality players for pennies on the dollar.
But an equally, if not more, likely scenario this year can be seen in the pick Presti got from the Heat four years ago. That 18th pick became the only first-round selection Presti has ever parted with for future gains. He sent eventual selection Eric Bledsoe to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future first-rounder. That pick was later packaged to Boston as part of the Kendrick Perkins trade.
If all else fails, something similar could be seen Thursday night with the 21st and 29th selections.
“Sometimes improvement comes without addition,” Presti said. “And sometimes addition can create what’s called compression. My job is to calculate how we best get the most out of the team so that the coaches have as many options as possible to build the deepest team and put players on the floor that are going to grow throughout the season and probably throughout the years.”
It could be a wild night.