One day after an Internet report named Thunder general manager Sam Presti as a potential successor to Portland GM Kevin Pritchard, Presti responded to the speculation.
"Portland has a general manager, and I have a great job here in Oklahoma City,” Presti said Sunday. "I am excited to be a part of what we are building.” Pritchard's job has been in question for the past few months despite the work he's done rebuilding the Blazers. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Blazers have "made several fact-finding calls” about Presti, who in three years has transformed the Thunder franchise into a club that possesses arguably the most promising young core and future in the league. Because of the job Presti has done — reconfiguring the franchise's payroll structure, effectively rebuilding through the draft with young talent and creatively capitalizing on trade opportunities while remaining prudent in free agency — this seemingly will be the first of several reports that link him to GM openings. Losing Presti, especially at this stage in the team's development, would be a huge blow to the Thunder. But there are far too few reasons to believe Presti would bolt the Thunder for the Blazers. The lone sizable edge the Blazers hold over the Thunder is in billionaire owner Paul Allen. With Allen signing paychecks, Presti could potentially receive a hefty raise and perhaps wouldn't need to be nearly as mindful about his team's payroll as he must be in Oklahoma City. But Portland has its issues. The Yahoo! Sports article, citing anonymous sources, reports that potential candidates would be hesitant to take the Blazers job if it opened because of an ownership group in Portland that has a history of "meddlesome behavior.” The article goes on to say established NBA front-office executives are unsure they would have the leeway to carry out their philosophies. Presti, meanwhile, has been given that freedom in OKC.