“Basketball is so small right now.” Sam Presti talks Thunder and COVID-19@sublime50illustrations

“Basketball is so small right now.” Sam Presti talks Thunder and COVID-19

Sam Presti, Thunder Executive Vice President & General Manager, spoke with media members via video conference call on a range of subjects including the NBA’s suspended season, the team’s performance in 2019-20, and business for the organization to complete if and when this season (or next) resumes. He answered several questions but (unsurprisingly) could not provide much in the way of concrete plans or expectations from his vantage.

On the Thunder’s plans for resuming activities as permitted by state and local governments:

“The league has said May 8th is the target date. But as we’ve seen, things are changing day by day. I don’t think we’re committed to that date. The league has given teams flexibility for what’s best for them. We’re gonna be thorough in how we look at it...

The players have been great. They have zoom calls. I’ve been inspired by how our organization has inspired each other and leaned on each other…

We don’t know when we’re coming back or if we’re coming back.

On the Thunder working together with the rest of the NBA toward an eventual, if “imperfect”, return to play:

“As one of 30 (NBA teams), even though we’re competing against other organizations, this is not the time for that…

When we return, even if it’s next season, we are experiencing it together. There are bigger things at play here. My hope here is that we figure out how to get through this virus and keep people safe. Then we can think about basketball...

Basketball is so small relative to everything we’re facing right now...

(You can’t) pretend you have the facts that you don’t have… We’re so far into hypotheticals and theories at this point, I’m not sure the work is productive.”

On Chris Paul’s impressive season:

“He’s played at an amazing level. I don’t think that was ever a question. I couldn’t forecast out how he’d play. He’s incredibly committed. The credit goes to him for his mindset and the work he puts in on his body.”

On undrafted two-way player Lu Dort exceeding expectations:

“[A player in his situation] playing minutes in your rotation…the odds of that are really small. He’s done an excellent job. Our evaluators did an excellent job identifying him…

The rite of passage on finding somebody like that is missing on several.”

On Billy Donovan’s future with the team (Donovan is on an expiring contract):

I think Billy Donovan has done an excellent job all five of his seasons. I would say I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking to him after the season. I’m confident at the right time, we’ll be able to sit down and have a conversation about Billy’s future...

I hope [those conversations] are productive when there’s an appropriate time.”

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