Thunder general manager Sam Presti, at his season-ending press conference Monday afternoon, discussed several subjects, including coming off a successful season, the June 25 NBA Draft, possibly adding a center and Oklahoma City fans receiving rave reviews.
→Q: After posting 50 wins, what are realistic goals for next season and beyond?
A: "I’m certainly proud of the group and what they were able to accomplish but also knowing that we have a long way to go. We’re not entitled to anything because we had one positive year. It was a unique year. Unique by definition is not easy to duplicate for a lot of reasons. We have to go back to the principles that put us in that position last year and try to keep working at them. There’s a genuine and authentic sense of humility within the group.”
→What is your reaction to those who suggest your rebuilding plan is ahead of schedule?
"In terms of it coming quickly, we really don’t have a schedule. We’ll let other people mark the calendars at different points and time when we should be doing this or should be doing that. The thing that works best for us is taking each day and trying to figure out a way to improve. Even the tough days.”
→Do you agree with many analysts the No. 1 priority should be to add a big man?
"Everyone would love to add a player, or in the Lakers’ case two players, that have that size and length. But I really have to give a lot of credit to Nenad (Krstic), Serge (Ibaka) and Nick (Collison), the guys that manned that position for us, given the fact we improved dramatically defensively. We’re not a perfect picture, a finished product by any stretch. You won’t hear us say that. But by the same token, our guys have stuck to the system and competed and put us in position to consistently win games.”
→Owning the No. 21, No. 26, No. 32 and No. 51 picks, could you package some of those picks to move up in the draft?
"The draft is one of those things where you have a million things thrown around. We’ll certainly explore everything. That’s been the nature of how we’ve looked at things the past couple of years and will do it again this year. It’s an opportunity to add players. It’s kind of like in Monopoly, when you go past Go (you get $200). For us, we’ll try to find the right fit for our team and shift the odds so we can find someone who fits and can play.”
→Has Clay Bennett and the ownership group given indications whether the organization will be willing to spend money in upcoming years to add a key free agent and keep most of the core group together?
"We understand through a natural progression that our payroll is going to rise.