Who would ever guess that the man who brought you the "Showtime Lakers" of the 80's that included Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper and Bob McAdoo. The man who brought you, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Fisher, Robert Horry and many, many more, could be surpassed as the best general manager of the past? Well in my opinion, Sam Presti might just have done enough to surpass the great Jerry West, as a great General Manager.
Heading into the 2008-09 NBA season no one would have expected the vast improvements the Thunder have made over a few season to get to the point that they are at now in the organization.
The Thunder had the young up and coming star Kevin Durant. That was about as far as you could go, if you were named to ask any other players on the Thunder roster.
Ever since Presti was Promoted as General Manager for the Oklahoma City Thunder back on June 7th, 2007, he has brought nothing but success to this Thunder team.
Though that success did not happen right away for the young GM from Massachusetts.
He had perennial All-Stars on his roster, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. But Prestis winning strategy is building a young core of players through the drafts.
His first selection as GM, was with the No. 2 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft he selected Kevin Durant. (We all know how that is turning out so far).
Presti then traded Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics for the draft rights to Jeff Green. Ray Allen is near the end of his career. While Jeff Green is coming off a 15 points, 6 rebounds a game season.
Then traded Lewis to Orlando, for a 2nd Round pick, and a $9 million trade exception, which was used to go get Kurt Thomas and two first round picks from the Phoenix Suns.
One of those first round selections from Phoenix was the No. 24 pick, which the Thunder selected Serge Ibaka. Ibaka was brought from overseas last season, and has been a force down low in his rookie year. Look for him to be their starting power forward or center in a few years time.
The other pick from Phoenix was used to draft Quincy Pondexter with the No. 26 pick in the 2010 Draft. Pondexter was then traded to the Hornets along with Craig Brackins for Cole Aldrich.
Presti's Draft greatness just continues to flourish! Did you know that he drafted both Glen Davis and Carl Landry in 2007? But both were traded on draft day!
In 2008 with the No. 4 pick the Thunder selected Russell Westbrook, the sophomore out of UCLA. At the time, most critics, and analysts all thought it was a stretch to pick Westrbook that high. But I guess he as proved them all wrong!
The strategy of picking smart and building a team of young players continued into the 2009 and 2010 NBA Drafts.
In 2009 the Thunder drafted James Harden with the No.3 pick, and Rodrique Beaubouis with the No. 25 pick. (I got so excited after this pick, I had thought the Thunder got the steal of the draft). But then Presti traded Beaubois to Dallas for Byron Mullens. Mullens still is very raw and needs to improve. You just can not get them all Presti!
In 2010 they drafted Craig Bracking and Quincy Pondexter, but both were shipped out to New Orleans for the rights to big man Cole Aldrich. To give the Thunder some front court depth.
With those great draft selections, in which Sam Presti was behind. He is also very good at making great trades, and signing key free agents in order to make the Thunder that much better. And usually all the players he trades for are either young and improving, or key veterans to help mentor the young team.
Presti traded a late first round pick to the Chicago Bulls for Thabo Shefolosha. Shefolosha has turned into an elite defender and he is always guarding the opposing teams top player.
Presti also somehow swung this great deal for the Thunder, by trading the rights to Peter Fehse to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Matt Harping and Eric Maynor. The Thunder bought out Harping, and the rookie Maynor last year played a very key role as the back-up to Russell Westbrook.
In the 2008 NBA Draft, the Thunder traded for big man D.J. White, who was drafted No. 29 by the Detroit Pistons. White has played as the banger down low for the Thunder.
The Thunder also traded for the sharp shooting Daequan Cook for the Miami Heat along with No.18 pick, for the Thunder's No. 32 pick.
Another great steal in the free agency market for Presti, was when he snagged Nenard Kristic to a three year deal. This was a steal because Kristic was coming off of a serious ACL injury, and the Thunder were taking a big risk in bringing in Krsitic. But as we can see, bringing Kristic in paid off, and has played a key role, as the Thunder's starting center.
So, as you can see Sam Presti has been one of the main reasons for the Oklahoma City Thunder's success. Ever since he was hired as the General Manager of the Thunder, he has brought nothing but success to them. He deserves nothing more then this multiyear extension. It is the least that Thunder could do for Presti, for what he has done for the Oklahoma City Thunder organization.
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