In one stroke, Sam Presti shifted our focus.
With last Thursday's trade that sent Jeff Green to Boston and brought Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, the Thunder passed a pretty significant point in its process.
The regular season has become less relevant.
A Sunday showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers ends in a 90-87 defeat -- who cares? The loss drops the Thunder to 36-22 and signals the first three-game skid of the season -- so what?
Even the Thunder's place in the standings no longer matters as much as it did last Monday.
Now, it's all about the playoffs.
From this point on, everything that happens with the Thunder will be measured by how it might translate to the postseason. It's a slightly more comfortable spot to be in and one that every contender reaches.
The Thunder, in all likelihood, will maintain a one-game-at-a-time outlook. Players and coaches will say every game is important. But the truth is this roster is as playoff-ready as it has ever been, and fans and analysts' attitudes are sure to reflect that thinking.
That's not to say the regular season doesn't matter. The 82-game portion of the campaign still will be filled with thrills and teaching moments. Those are both interesting and important.
But there is no better example of how our viewpoints have changed than the collective response to the news that Perkins will miss two to three weeks. His left knee injury will keep him on the shelf until roughly mid-March. Without him, the Thunder is undermanned. OKC could hit a rough patch and fall back to the rest of the pack fighting for seeds 5 through 8 in the Western Conference.
As long as Perkins is back for the playoffs, that's all that seems to matter.
Since the trade, many have said the Thunder is now ready to challenge the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs for conference supremacy. Perkins is expected to have that much of an impact. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, following Sunday's contest, called Perkins the best low post defender in the game.
And with Nazr Mohammed coming over via trade with Charlotte, the Thunder now has two experienced centers to man the paint. When Perkins recovers, Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison will be able to spend most of their minutes at power forward, their more natural positions. Suddenly, the roster has more balance than ever before.
If Thunder coach Scott Brooks wants to play big and bully teams on the boards, he can. If he wants to go small and space the floor with shooters, he can do that, too.
The new versatility has transformed the Thunder into a very dangerous team for anyone to face in a seven-game series.
And at the end of the day, that's what matters most.