One NBA insider believes the Oklahoma City Thunder may be lucky to still have Sam Presti as their General Manager.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix told The Ringer’s Bill Simmons that had the Boston Celtics reached out to the Thunder GM, Brad Stevens may not be the man calling the shots in Boston.
“I believe unequivocally that if the Celtics made an offer to Sam Presti he would have taken it,” Mannix said on the Bill Simmons Podcast. “I think that the Celtics are Sam Presti’s dream job.”
As Presti enters his 14th season as the GM in OKC, he is the longest tenured general manager in the NBA. But Mannix said after being born and raised in Concord, MA, as well as attending Emerson College in Boston, a deep rooted bond developed between Presti and the City.
“This is a guy that still brings his family — I think his father still lives in New England, he brings his family back in the summer, goes to Fenway Park! There’s a connection between Boston and Sam Presti,” Mannix said. “And I think that if the Celtics had just had a little patience and kicked the tires on Sam Presti they would have liked what they heard back.”
Presti is in the midst of an organizational overhaul with the Thunder. After dealing Paul George and Russell Westbrook two offseasons ago, the Thunder have amassed an unprecedented 36 draft picks over the next seven years.
Not to mention, the franchise has already acquired their next cornerstone piece in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which makes this the right time for Presti to move on, Mannix said.
“There’s no better time to leave Oklahoma City than right now. Like you took them almost to the mountaintop. You’ve built an incredible small market success story, and while they are down now, the cupboards not bare,” he said. “You’re overflowing with assets. Lu Dort, excellent player.
“Before the lottery happened, you had a chance of getting the number one pick in the draft, now you’ve got, what, a top six pick. And if you’re Presti, you have like a succession plan in place. Rob Hennigan is being positioned as the heir to Sam Presti. He’s one of only a couple of guys in the organization that have direct access to Clay Bennett. He is being groomed for that spot, so if there was a time for Sam Presti to leave outside of winning a championship, this would be it.”
While Mannix said he didn’t hate the move to promote Stevens into the front office, he thinks the Celtics made a major error by not even reaching out to Presti.
“I have no problem with Brad Stevens taking that job. Like I think Brad is super smart and will find a way to be successful with that job,” he said. “My problem is this, you have arguably the best general manager in basketball potentially available to you, and you don’t make a call?
“I don’t know what we’re doing.”