That was Sam Presti’s reaction Sunday when he was asked about what he makes of the rumors of Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy being a potential replacement if Scott Brooks can’t work out an extension.
“We value him greatly,” Presti said of Brooks. “We wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in without him, and his commitment to our organization and our players.”
Presti said settling Brooks’ contract situation is “top on our list” of offseason to-do items.
“We’re looking forward to having those conversations in the coming days,” he said.
Presti also spoke some about the future discussions with Serge Ibaka and James Harden, noting that those bridges will be crossed at their appropriate times. Presti cited the first plan in attacking those situations was to do their homework, meaning understanding the new collective bargaining agreement as much as possible.
In terms of the plan with those players, Presti didn’t entirely rule out paying the luxury tax, but stressed that while there are certainly obstacles ahead, that the team clearly prefers to keep the current core of players together and let them continue to build from within.
“We understand there are going to be some challenges ahead, some tough challenges ahead,” he said. “What I can tell you, is that we’re going to do everything we can to make it work. We’re going to put everything toward it.
“We love the group that we have. And we’re going to work tirelessly to make it work here,” Presti said. “But we understand it, there are some inherent challenges and that’s part of the new system.”
Harden and Eric Maynor both seemed to indicate Saturday they’d be willing to potentially make concessions to keep the core of the roster intact. Presti was asked about that and how he’d approach those comments headed into negotiations.
“At the end of the day those are personal decisions,” he said. “And we’re not one to judge anyone in those respects. We’re going to do what we can to make it work for them, and make it work for us.”
A few other notes:
- Presti said he thought the San Antonio series was the best basketball the Thunder played all season and said he hoped that would become the “standard of performance” for the team.
- Presti had a pretty good line in talking about that old sustaining success thing: “It’s a lot easier, in my opinion, to find or achieve success, than to sustain it.”
- It should be noted, “rubbish” is a fantastic word. I wouldn’t expect any less from Presti. Terrific selection there.
- Tibor Pleiss signed with Caja Laboral, to which Presti confirmed. “We think it’s great for him. I think he’s only going to improve as a player by playing there. We’re very encouraged by his development, but I think the decision for him was to continue to play in Europe and give himself an opportunity to improve so that when he comes to the NBA he can contribute and we support that.”
- On Andrey Vorontsevich, Presti kind of skipped around directly answering that situation just noting that he’s under contract in Russia and that teams can’t negotiate until July 1. “He’s a player that I think a lot of NBA teams have interest in,” Presti said.
- Presti said the Thunder aren’t looking to move their draft pick. “If there’s a player on the board that we feel like fits our organization, fits our identity, we’ll draft them. If we feel like there’s a better way to use the draft pick, then we’ll do that.”
- For summer league, the Thunder will send Lazar Hayward, Cole Aldrich and Reggie Jackson to Orlando, while also filling out the team with other non-roster players.
- “We have to think big, but we have to build small,” Presti said. “The improvements that we’ll make will be incremental. We have to find ways on the edges, we have to find marginal gains.”
- On Derek Fisher: “Whether Derek is with us next season or not, he’ll be with us in the sense that he’s left a ripple effect with our team.”
- Presti admitted there’s some luck involved in this: “I’ll be the first to say that we’ve had some pretty good fortune. We’re not ashamed to point to that quickly. Whether it’s having the opportunity draft Kevin Durant, who not only happens to be a fantastic player but a fantastic person who personifies the values we want the organization to embody. Or a player like Russell Westbrook who we all thought was going to be a good player, but none of us anticipated the kind of ascent he’s experienced. I can go down the list. I’d also add, we’ve had some good fortune, but we’ve had some good fortune coming to Oklahoma City. I’m not sure this happens if we don’t come here.”