Sam Presti doesn't too much care for Twitter or television cameras.
So when the Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager agreed to a multi-year extension with his club Thursday, the team simply sent out an electronic news release to a handful of inboxes throughout the league.
Presti's decision to remain in Oklahoma City received far less fanfare than LeBron James' live one-hour television special that reached millions earlier this month. And it made less of a splash throughout the NBA than the modest manner in which Thunder star Kevin Durant used the social networking site Twitter to announce his five-year extension to his 200,000 followers.
But there is a potentially substantial truth stashed in the simplicity of Oklahoma City's re-signing of Presti. The GM's commitment to OKC could shape the league's competitive landscape even more than this summer's franchise-altering free agent signings.
With Presti in place, the Thunder's future is now secure. And that could soon spell trouble for the rest of the league.
Over the past 2 1/2 months, Oklahoma City has locked up the three biggest pieces to a puzzle that might someday depict a championship.
On May 4, the Thunder picked up the third-year option on reigning Coach of the Year Scott Brooks, ensuring he'll be with the team through at least the 2011-12 season. Durant signed on to play through the 2015-16 season. And though the terms of Presti's deal are unclear, the GM will now be around to continue putting his stamp on the franchise.
"We are fortunate to have Sam leading our basketball organization," said Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett in the team's release. "He is extremely committed to the growth of our franchise, of our players and this community. He has helped build an identity for this organization that we can all be proud of. I look forward to our continued work together as we experience the challenges of creating sustainable success."
Presti, 33, still is the youngest GM in the league, a title he's held since he was hired in June 2007. But in three short years, Presti has earned a reputation as one of the league's best and brightest general managers. His makeover of the Thunder franchise put him among the leading candidates for recent GM openings in Portland and New Jersey. Former Thunder Assistant General Manager Rich Cho wound up accepting the Trail Blazers' job earlier this week.
Presti took over a Seattle SuperSonics franchise mired in mediocrity and quickly built the league's best young team, eventually scaling the standings after a 20-win season in 2007-08, a 23-win season in 2008-09 and a 50-win campaign in 2009-10. Presti acquired Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Eric Maynor and Cole Aldrich through the draft or trades. He also appointed Brooks, a former assistant, to the head coach position after firing P.J. Carlesimo in November 2008.
All told, it's a cast that many believe is now on the brink of championship contender status, especially considering the sun is setting on stars such as the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Boston's Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, Phoenix's Steve Nash, Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki and Houston's Yao Ming.
Perhaps Presti's most significant contribution to the Thunder, however, has not been in player acquisitions or salary cap construction but in defining and committing to a culture. Under Presti, the Thunder has adopted a defensive and unselfish mentality on the court, and players and coaches willingly regurgitate and carry out philosophies of teamwork, hard work and development. After only two seasons in Oklahoma City, the Thunder also is becoming a pillar in the community through steadfast involvement.
"I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity to continue our work here with the Thunder," Presti said in a release. "Oklahoma City is home for me. We have a committed group of players, excellent coaches led by Scott Brooks, and a support staff, in both basketball and business, that is integral to the vision of our organization and I am grateful for their partnership.
"I would also like to thank Clay for his support and trust. He has been central and unwavering in our efforts to build, enhance and sustain an elite franchise. We are fortunate to work with such a committed ownership group."
With Presti, Durant and Brooks in place — as well as a scary-good roster of young talent around them — the Thunder is now facing heightened expectations to rise up to the level of a championship contender. While the players must ultimately perform, the onus starts with Presti to continue making shrewd moves that will land the franchise there.
Green is eligible for a contract extension this summer but could be allowed to become a restricted free agent next summer, when Westbrook will be in line for an extension as well. Harden, Ibaka, Maynor and Byron Mullens are also due for extensions in 2012. It will be important for Presti to maintain some continuity but also avoid overspending to do so.
But because of recent restraint in free agency, the Thunder still is more than $6 million below the $58 million salary cap. That seemingly will allow the Thunder to re-sign its own players without ultimately having an uncontrollable payroll, while also acquiring additional pieces down the line in free agency.
Without flash, frills or fanfare, the Thunder has formed the makings of a fantastic future. And the rest of the league might not know what hit it when the puzzle is complete.