They’re dubbing this the Presti plan and it’s so simple that it’s brilliant. There are two themes here that made it successful. The first is patience. The Thunder haven’t signed a “big name” free agent the entirety of Presti’s tenure with the team and have been quietly acquiring assets like trade exceptions and draft picks ever since he got there. The second element of course is luck. Not very team gets the chance to draft a player as talented as Kevin Durant and not every teams gets fortunate enough to not only draft him, but watch the team in front of you select Greg Oden. What is that old saying though? “The more I prepare, the luckier I get.” Definitely applicable here. From the Oklahoman:
Four years ago, Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti set out on a rebuilding project that once was mocked but is now being mimicked.
With that initial project officially complete, the Thunder GM is now carrying out one of the most creative game plans for how a small market team can continue to compete.
As the payrolls of NBA rosters continue to skyrocket, and the league sees its most coveted superstars steadily jumping ship to join one another in larger markets, it’s the small-town franchises like the Thunder that are being threatened to get left behind. That’s what’s quickly become the inconvenient reality of the NBA.
But through shrewd moves like Monday night’s signing of newly acquired center Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder has managed to stay even with, if not ahead of, even the best competition — which today is defined by teams whose owners have the deepest pockets.
While some fans and analysts thought the Thunder was refusing to dip into its ample salary cap space the past two summers to acquire a marquee free agent, Presti actually was using the resource. Just in a different way. Each time Presti passed on splashy signings like David Lee or Paul Millsap or Macin Gortat, he kept his flexibility intact. What were perceived to be minor deals frequently would follow.
Today, though, the Thunder has blossomed into one of the most respected rosters in the NBA, and a potential perennial power, because of that patience.
Note to up and coming GMs, this will be your case study.