Some interesting comments from Sam Presti to Berry Tramel in this piece here, starting with, “That’s why we built the organization the way we did. [Westbrook's injury] doesn’t end our world.”
That’s the Presti mantra in a nutshell. I touched on this yesterday, but the fans that grew frustrated at the lack of moves this summer failed to understand the vision Presti is operating with. Because Westbrook’s injury only reinforces Presti’s line of thinking. So many fans scream for the team to “go for it” and by not using the mid-level exception or breaking into the tax, they’re letting a championship window slip.
But as anyone that’s watched sports for any amount of time should know by now, it’s all unpredictable. There are unknown variables, wrenches thrown into the plan, curveballs that fly in. There’s no way to plan for a devastating injury or bad call. You just have to deal and adapt to it all. And if you’ve got an organization that decides to push all its chips into the middle on one season, those curveballs become more devastating, exponentially.
“If we’re good long enough,” Presti told Tramel, “there’s going to be a player leave who wants more money, or a great player is going to get injured, or you’re going to blow a draft pick, or a coach is going to make a mistake in a game, or you’re going to get a bad call.
“You always have to be thinking, what if? If this was our and only shot to win it, it would be very devastating.
“I feel comfortable saying, we’re going to be good for awhile.”
Westbrook’s injury last postseason is one of the best cases as to why trading Harden before the season was the safe play. Roll the dice and hold on to him for one more year hoping you could take a shot at a title and Westbrook gets hurt, well, now you just doubled down and lost.
Now. A large reason the Thunder are going to be good for awhile is because of the infrastructure of the team that includes No. 35 and No. 0. With them, there’s a promise of extended success. So having Westbrook is, you know, kind of important.
“We’re going to get him back and we’re going to march forward,” Presti told Tramel. “He’s going to come back, he’s going to be rusty, he’s going to have some rough nights … But if we want to be a great organization, and I think we can be, part of that is absorbing these hits.”
So the point is this: You can’t plan for problems; all you can do is build the best possible roster you can without mortgaging your future. Fans have grown tired of all the “future” talk because the desire to win now has become almost a bloodlust. It’s title or bust for the Thunder, and a good portion of the fanbase is unwilling to accept anything less than that.
But if you want to have that same expectation three years from now, you have to understand the process of maintaining that. The Thunder aren’t just trying to be average. They’re not just trying to remain a postseason team. Their goal is to win every single championship for the next 10 years. In order to do that though, you’ve got to have a sustainable roster that puts you in a position for it. It’s simple math: The more bullets you have in the clip, the more chances you have of hitting your target.