It doesn’t matter if Oklahoma City wins the NBA championship this upcoming season or the Thunder implode amid the egos of three of the league’s top players.
Sam Presti has learned his lesson. And it’s a great thing for Oklahoma City.
The NBA is not the NFL. It’s not Major League Baseball. It’s not a, “Hey, in three years we could get really, really good kind of league.” Only the 76ers think that way and they’re in the position where making the playoffs is likened to summiting Everest.
No, the NBA is a league where if the window cracks open giving you a chance, you better force yourself through it. The Thunder once had that window and then let it slam on their fingers in 2012. Back then, the Thunder had Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and James Harden and Serge Ibaka and the league in their hands. It didn’t last.
The fact Presti, who has been better this offseason than the Warriors were during all of last season, is taking a chance after learning this painful lesson. But let’s not forget, Presti is good, but he’s the one who put the Thunder in this bind he’s now untying.
Presti chose Ibaka over Harden, drafted Cameron Payne and Cole Aldrich, Perry Jones and others and most importantly was left with nothing when Durant burned him and the organization. Not all of those things are solely his fault, but Presti is in charge to make sure those things either don’t happen or there’s a back-up plan in place when and if it does.
Unable to grab up free agents for reasons that are beyond his means in years past, Presti has been magical trading players this offseason. Ultimately, though, it’s not about the trades, which may or may not end up working out. It’s about the mindset of taking a chance.
Who knows if Westbrook will be in Oklahoma City this time next season. Same goes for George and now Carmelo Anthony. The point is, you chance it. Bring together egos, ship off players who love it here (Ibaka for one, Enes Kanter, another). You do whatever will be the best bet to win. And not just win, win now.
This window is open – not as wide as it was back in 2012 when OKC had nothing but the brightest of futures out in front of it – but it’s open. Maybe more than just a bit, too. Good for Presti to recognize it and do something about it.