Thunder Basketball

Sam Presti “Encouraged” About George’s Future; Disappointed With Season

Sam Presti “Encouraged” About George’s Future; Disappointed With Season

Sam Presti opened with 2761 words before taking on questions at his annual exit interview. The always prepared Presti attempted to answer questions before they were asked.

The basketball world’s question dealt primarily with the future of Paul George.

Paul George

“I think naturally, and I think some of you guys sitting in the seats probably had your mind going to somebody else,” Presti said referring to the comparisons between Kevin Durant and Paul George’s free agency. “The reality is that each one of those decisions is singular and different. Every single person is different.”

Obviously the Oklahoma City Thunder are no strangers to big stars entering a foggy future within the organization. Despite this, Presti seemed optimistic about the prospects of retaining George.

“The opportunity to look into that, then also have that dialogue, has really encouraged us,” Presti said. “It’s made us feel good about where he is in his mind about the Thunder, where he is with his approach to things.”

The way he has embraced the opportunity in OKC, There was a 2 month stretch where I thought he was the best player in the league. -Presti on Paul George

When asked about yesterday’s report from ESPN’s Ryen Russillo’s comments yesterday on Paul George “being done in Oklahoma City,” Presti focused on putting emphasis on George rather than reports.

“I talked to PG,” he said. “I would say why don’t we listen to Paul. He has had a lot of comments also. I’m not trying to dissuade anybody or say that what someone says someone told them is inaccurate. I’d rather listen to the man himself.”

Presti’s encouragement of retaining George stemmed from the “relationships he’s made among the team and organization,” and that he is “a tremendous fit” with the Thunder.

Team Disappointment

The Thunder GM was quick to rattle off analytics on the successes of the team.

“We were a team that was one of three or four teams to be in the top 10 in offense and defense,” Presti said. “The seventh best net rating in the league, the ninth best record in the league.”

He was equally as quick to point out how underwhelming the team performed this season.

“We’re disappointed,” he said. “We should be (disappointed). We expected more out of this team.”

While the disappointments are plentiful, Presti was confident many of the things were correctable. The Thunder general manager mentioned how devastating the Andre Roberson injury was but mentioned “we should have bounced back from that stronger, but were unable to.”

The team that we have now, albeit disappointing with respect to expectations coming into the season, is much further along to where we ultimately want to be within Russell’s best years, and Paul’s best years. -Sam Presti

Free throw shooting was also a point of emphasis.

“I think shooting the ball at the free-throw line this year, what we experienced,” he said. “We were 29th in the league shooting the free throw. How in the world you can be that bad at the free-throw line and still end up seventh in offensive efficiency is beyond me.”

Billy Donovan

Presti was asked point blank if Billy Donovan would return to the Thunder next season.

“Yes,” he answered with a smile.

“With respect to Billy,” Presti added. “One of the things that I’m most excited about and excited for him about going forward is the fact that if fortunate enough, he’ll be able to work with the same core of a team that, as I said before, has a baseline that we’ve established, but has some controllable areas we need to improve.”

Whether or not the continuity of the roster will continue will depend upon George’s decision as well as Carmelo Anthony’s future.

Carmelo Anthony

The Thunder GM had a lot of fence-mending to do in the wake of Anthony’s exit interview comments where the 14-year veteran said, among other things, that he was not “sacrificing no bench role.”

“I don’t want his comments at the end of the season to in any way be reshaped by anybody to insinuate that he wasn’t a total pro during the season,” Presti said. “I don’t want that to be insinuated that he didn’t put two feet into fulfilling the role that was necessary for him to take on this team.”

It was interesting to note that when Presti would mention the roster if George returns that the foundation of Russell Westbrook, George and Steven Adams would be a strong unit moving forward. Anthony’s name was noticeably absent during those comments.


Thunder Basketball

Brady has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2016. University of Oklahoma alum class of 2014. He has worked for the Franchise since April 2018. Co-Host of the OKC-82 Podcast. Member of the Basketball Insider's Show.

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