ESPN.com Future Rankings have OKC second still: “Additionally, getting veterans to come here will be a harder sell than other markets. To the Thunder’s credit, they’ve built up enough of a winning culture that they now get considered — Derek Fisher landed here last season, for instance — but they’re still going to come behind the coastal cities. And while their four stars have shined, some of the secondary talent — most notably Kendrick Perkins — has disappointed. That’s where good management comes in. Sam Presti has shown himself to be among the league’s best general managers, and regardless of what he did in Seattle, owner Clay Bennett has shown he can operate a basketball franchise. We rated the Thunder’s front office second behind only San Antonio — the team that is in many ways the blueprint for success.”
Talking Lakers-Thunder with Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN LA: “The Thunder might not be a post scoring team, but if the Lakers can turn them almost exclusively into a bunch of jump shooters, they’ll take their chances. Cutting off those lane drives would make a huge difference, and it’s a possibility because with Howard the Lakers not just have great help at the rim, but also someone with more mobility in pick-and-roll defense. Durant is going to be Durant — how incredible was that Olympics performance? — but in the half court the Thunder weren’t always a dynamic scoring team.”
Berry Tramel: “Is Thundermania sustainable for five years? For 10? Can OKC remain a viable NBA market in this era of superstar aggregation (LA, Boston, Miami)? There is reason for hope. And it’s in that word from the previous paragraph. Sustainability. It’s a word Sam Presti has trotted out as much as he’s used “process” and “culture.” Those are his triple crown of terms. Presti has preached sustainability since this franchise first docked in OKC. Sustainability was in short supply in the decision-making of the Hornets and Magic in recent years. Just check out the contracts given to Peja Stojakovic (Hornets) and Hedo Turkoglu (Magic). Those all-in decisions meant the future was now.”
Sam Amick of SI.com on Presti protege Rob Hennigan: “Thunder general manager Sam Presti, a former Emerson star himself who had been granted the very same internship en route to his then-job as San Antonio’s assistant GM, took Smith’s spirited recommendation of Hennigan to heart and offered him the job. Presti had missed playing with Hennigan by a year at the Division III program, but his old coach was quick to tell him how well they would have worked together, how smart and diligent and efficient Hennigan was and how eerily similar the two of them were. Eight years later, Hennigan — who is just one year older than Presti was when he became a whiz-kid GM and two years older than standard-bearer Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox at the time of his ascent in Major League Baseball — would leave his post as Thunder assistant general manager to execute the messiest divorce in all of pro sports between Howard and the Magic.”
Darren Rovell: “Oklahoma City has now joined the Heat, the Lakers & the Celtics as a premium road game teams are charging more for.” One of these is not like the others.
Via the NY Daily News: “Members of the unstoppable squad — including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and more — arrived en masse at Meatpacking District hotspot Avenue for an Olympic-sized bash, complete with huge metallic balloons that spelled out “U.S.A.,” dancers in skimpy patriotic spandex and firecrackers exploding off magnum bottles of Dom Perignon.”