At any moment, Sam Presti could strike. He’s one of the best general managers out there at keeping everything under his hat until it happens.
But it’s starting to get to be that time of the season where NBA GMs are calling each other daily to see what’s going on. And I don’t mean that they’re just checking in and saying “Merry Christmas.” Presti is no exception, as he told HoopsWorld:
“About this time of year this start to pick up, and I’m sure we’ll take our fair share of calls and make our fair share of calls,” Presti Tells HOOPSWORLD. “That said, the group that we have is one that we see working together, growing together, and continuing to learn together. We understand that we’re still a work in progress, and the areas where we’re trying to improve as a team – being more defensive-minded, being a team that moves the ball and plays for the pass, a team that brings energy every single night – those are areas that we still want to see growth in. We’re confident that our guys are going to keep working. We’ve got an excellent focus on the practice floor led by Scott, and we’ll look for our development and our progress to come internally.”
So, let me say aloud what we’re all thinking: Who could Presti be offering up or going after? What exactly could the Thunder be in the market for?
Most of you just shouted “BIG MAN!” at your computer screen, but that might not be it. I’m speculating, but something tells me that could be what Presti has on the block.
Let me toss this one out there: Orlando is after a veteran backup big man to replace Marcin Gortat and help solidify their front line with Dwight Howard. They’d prefer to trade Quentin Richardson or Chris Duhon. But those two might not get back what the Magic are wanting. So they may be forced to dangle J.J. Redick out there, who will require better offers. Obviously the Magic want to keep Redick, but with Jason Richardson coming in, Redick’s playing time might be squeezed a bit and therefore making him more expendable. Plus, Gilbert Arenas is playing a decent amount off the ball as well.
I’m not saying that’s a real possibility by any means, but OKC certainly would have a good big man in Nenad Krstic to offer. To get the salary stuff to line up it might take some wiggling, but the Thunder could do it. Again, it’s probably not happening, but a player like Redick would fit in well in OKC’s backcourt. As much as Scott Brooks likes to go small, I don’t think playing time would become an issue with James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha.
Now let me talk myself out of it: At the same time though with the way Harden is playing right now, I’d hate to do anything that upset his current rhythm. If anything, Harden needs more playing time and the Thunder shouldn’t do anything that would cut into that. So unless there was a way to fit in a player like Redick to the rotation, the deal doesn’t do OKC any good. But I think the Thunder needs a floor-spacer like Redick, seeing as the Thunder’s the second worst 3-point shooting team in the league. Really, just someone that can make a consistent 3. Kevin Durant is that, Harden is decent and Jeff Green sometimes has it, but OKC could use a player that requires attention around the 3-point line.
However, acquiring a player like Redick who has multiple years on his deal means the Thunder’s not a major player in the free agent market next summer, especially if they want to extend a qualifying offer to Jeff Green. Complicated, this stuff is.
Of course there’s the other thing where Presti uses an expiring contract to make a move for a future asset or young player. Like Morris Peterson, who has a $6.2 million expiring deal. But Krstic is a very good trade-able piece. Would OKC trade Krstic right now? I doubt it, although he does have a nice $5.5 million expiring deal.
Here’s the thing about trading Krstic: He would be totally expendable if either Cole Aldrich or Byron Mullens had shown any kind of sign that they’re ready to handle more responsibility. But I don’t think either one is there yet. And Serge Ibaka isn’t the answer at center while we wait for one of those to get there.
But at the same time, moving Krstic would clear a bit of the big man log jam the Thunder has right now. Long-term, it’s just not happening that OKC keeps Krstic, Mullens and Aldrich. Not with Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison already part of the future inside plan. The Thunder would love for Aldrich (or Mullens) to have a shot at more substantial playing time, but they aren’t going to give them that at the expense of the team.
I honestly don’t think OKC is going to make much noise in the trade market over the next two months. I think Presti wants to see where the current roster goes before taking in anything long-term or giving up good assets. Like he said, Presti’s focused more on internal development than going outside to grab a player like J.J. Redick or another big man. But he’s going to make and take some calls. If he gets a deal together that makes sense, he’s not going to be afraid to pull the trigger though. He kind of knows what he’s doing.
The lesson, as always: Just let Sam Presti be the GM. He’s pretty dang good at it.