The elusive unpredictability of Thursday's NBA draft is being driven in no small part by
Seattle is the only team in the top five believed to be strongly considering
There will be a lot of second-guessing of Presti should he select Westbrook, who is viewed as a potential point guard even though he started only seven games at the position for UCLA during an early-season injury to
"We're always looking for players who play both ends of the floor,'' he said. "Guys who defend have value to us. We're also looking for guys who can play for the team, play for one another. We're attracted to guys who have a strong work ethic because those are the guys who will give themselves an opportunity to improve.''
While some NBA scouts doubt Westbrook's offensive potential -- "He'll be a backup, nothing more,'' one predicted -- others see value in his future as a lockdown on-the-ball defender, which, as
The ironic theme of Presti's short tenure with the Sonics has been his patience. Despite his age, he is committed to a long-term plan built around Rookie of the Year
It hasn't been easy to maintain a long-term view during this rough year in Seattle. The Sonics have been brought to court this month by the city of Seattle, which is seeking to hold the team to its KeyArena lease for two more seasons. The ongoing arena fight between local government and Sonics owner
The young Sonics lost 62 games this past season -- only Miami was worse -- yet they won only 11 fewer games than the previous year despite the controversial departures of stars
Presti often hears that he is trying to remodel the Sonics as a next-generation version of San Antonio, where he worked his way up from summer intern in 2000 to assistant GM by 2005.
"That's a convenient assumption,'' he said. "Every situation is different, and our circumstances are different. I don't think that there's a set way to approach each situation. Certainly some of the core principles that we want to establish and abide by may have some similarities [with the Spurs', but those same things would have similarities to other successful organizations in the NBA, Major League Baseball or other businesses.''
The nascent talent in this draft is forcing him and other GMs to make hard decisions this week.
"It's strong at the very top, that's well-documented,'' Presti said of Rose and Beasley. "What you find is a natural break for the next eight to 10 players where there's not a lot of separation. What you're going to see is teams identifying and defining what they think is the best fit for their organization. But there is a lot of parity on the different draft boards with those picks.''
The Sonics could go for Lopez as a sound interior scorer with the size and potential to be a defender and rebounder. They could choose Westbrook or Bayless, a
Whatever Presti decides, it will be based on the promise of two or three years from now, when Durant will have filled out and the cap space will have been spent.
"We aren't taking a short-term perspective to building our basketball team,'' he said. "Ideally, you'd like your team to be growing together, but that's not always possible. But you do have to let the core of the team develop and expose them to opportunities to develop together.''
In other words, whomever he drafts Thursday will be playing heavy minutes for the Sonics next season alongside Durant and Green.
Kevin Love has heard that the Timberwolves are considering him with the No. 3 pick. He hopes they act on that interest Thursday.
"I would love to work with [Minnesota vice president]
"But it's the truth. I used to watch those Boston Celtics tapes all the time. I would see him do a move, or see [
One question is whether the 6-9 Love could share the frontcourt with the 6-10
"I think it would be a great situation,'' Love said. "Al Jefferson is going to manage a double-double every night, and with my shooting and the way I can handle the ball, I think we would play great together.''
Love said he would appreciate joining with McHale and Jefferson regardless of where they are picking in the draft. The Knicks, who are picking sixth, would be another good team for him, according to Love.
"I would fit in well with