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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 6, 2016
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
SAM PRESTI: Sorry that we're keeping in inside on a day like today. Incredible, beautiful day outside.
Just a couple thoughts. Can you guys hear me all right? Okay, not like we're in a cavernous space, but just a couple thoughts before we get started.
First, just want to thank everyone associated with the organization, our staff, a lot of people behind the scenes that work tremendously hard and give a lot of their time to the organization, to the team. Also want to make sure that we thank our fans, thank our corporate partners and everybody that supports the Thunder on a day-to-day but yearly basis, and then want to thank everybody in the room for another year of working together and continuing to build our relationship with our partners in the press and the media.
Coming into the year, I really felt like there was a tremendous amount of energy and excitement around the team, around the organization, and I shared that with you when we got together in the preseason.
Obviously the year before had been a tough year. We had a bout of injuries and didn't end the way we would have liked. But I didn't feel like the organization or the players or the staff were deterred. I felt like when we arrived in October there was a sense of purpose and a real sincerity to try to have a great season and embrace the season as it came to us.
As I said before, the legacy for this organization is largely an unwritten book, and this past season was certainly an incredible chapter to be associated with, whether you were a player, a staff member, or a fan of the Thunder in Oklahoma or really anywhere in the world for that matter.
Through the year and has been the case in previous years there's really been three guiding principles that informed our work. First, embracing the fact that those of us with the Thunder are building the legacy of the organization in real time; secondly, that every level of the organization we embrace a relentless pursuit of progress and improvement; and lastly, we're constantly striving to try to create the optimal conditions where our players, our staff and our people in general can thrive and do tremendous work.
I thought the season in terms of the players when they arrived, they really kind of committed to a process of discovery, knowing that there were a lot of new faces, a new coaching staff, and I thought by the end of the year, the team itself had something to say, something to offer. In a lot of ways, I thought it brought us to almost like a new gateway or a new era of Thunder basketball.
Obviously in terms of the season, we'd love to still be playing. We're disappointed we couldn't find a way to win the seventh game. But at the same time, I think our team really understands and respects just the battle of competition, and for sure we respect our opponents and tip our cap to Golden State. They were tremendous, and we wish them the best as they continue on in The Finals.
I think that -- if I could sum up something with our team this year, I think there's a quote from Teddy Roosevelt from a speech he made in 1910 in France called the Citizen Republic, and in it he says that a great man is someone that spends himself on a worthy cause, and I thought this team really did that. I thought this team spent itself on a worthy cause. I thought it tried to be the best version of itself. I thought it was committed through the year. I thought it had sincerity to its efforts, and I thought at the end of the day they really respected the people they were playing against, which I thought was really important.
I thought Billy did an excellent job through the year. He was intentional. He was curious. He was supremely disciplined, I thought. Again, he embarked on a season to trying to build a team so that we could play various ways, that he could discover as much as he could about his own players, how they fit together, ways to put them in positions to be successful, and to get to know them as people. I thought he was -- I thought he did an excellent job of putting the tenets or the foundation in place for a system that could be transferable into the postseason, and what I mean by that is when we got to the postseason, a lot of the general principles and things we were looking to try to accomplish were able to transfer. In fact, some of the things actually got better as we entered into tougher competition.
I thought the team showed a tremendous focus and cohesion, and I thought some of our best work was actually taking place when we were in the midst of losing 8 of 12 games after the All-Star break. Sometimes you're not going to get the outcomes you're looking for, but I really do think that during that period of time we were making big gains, and a lot of that was as a result of the focus and intention from October up to that point.
You have to remember that this team was 7-6 at one time, and the coaches and the players didn't deviate from that process of discovery, evolution and progress that we talked about, and I think they deserve a lot of credit for that. If you play close to 100 games in an NBA season and if you do approach that number, that means you're having a heck of a year. You play 100 games, things are going to go wrong. Things are going to break down. There's going to be slippage. There's going to be situations you wish you could have back. There's going to be great enthusiasms, great devotions, as well, but over 100 games, things aren't going to go exactly how you want them to go.
And I thought that what this team did a really good job of doing was recognizing that there were going to be certain things that we could influence and we could control, but there were going to be others that we had to outlast and had to endure, and I think in being able to do that, we found a way to get better, and I thought the way the team really got better as the year went along was it was connected, it was cohesive, and I thought that by the end of the season there was a great compassion amongst the guys, amongst the players. They were really playing for one another, really understanding one another, and really sacrificing for each other so that we could get done what we wanted to get done, which is to be playing our best basketball at the end of the year.
You know, I think as we look ahead, we've taken the energy and the inspiration from the beginning of the season. We've transferred it into a strong progressive momentum for what looks like it could be a really dynamic, expressive, an exciting time for the organization, for the team, both on and off the floor.
You know, we're really excited about the group of guys that we have in place, the strides that a lot of them made individually, but probably equally if not more excited about how the individuals fit together and how their progress individually actually came together as progress as a team. We're poised to be in a position to continue to be first in the league in terms of continuity. We've been in that position since 2010. We finished the season the fifth youngest rotation in the NBA since 2010, and we're also in a position where we feel like we can continue to add to our team without having to deplete it or gut it in order to make progress, which is an exciting place to be in a salary cap system.
All those things have us excited, and as we've talked about, since 2008, our goal has been to sustain success in Oklahoma City, and we've had to do that through several different cycles of the team, a lot of things that we've had to deal with and that have come our way, but we feel really good that we're on a platform right now to allow us to continue to do that, which is something we're all excited about and should all be proud of.
With that I'll take any questions.
Q. Part of that growth obviously is retaining Kevin Durant. What's your concern level a month out from free agency?
SAM PRESTI: Well, I think, again, like concern -- I think the way you've got to look at that is when we signed Kevin to his extension five years ago, we knew that he'd be a free agent at the end of that contract. And we've done, I think, a really good job of just focusing on the things that we can control.
I also think Kevin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the way he's handled his affairs, because what it really did was it allowed our team to focus on the season and really made the season we had possible.
I thought it was a tremendous example of a franchise player putting the franchise first. I thought it was also a tremendous example of leadership on his part, because we're not able to have that season unless he's handling his affairs the way that he did, and we'll -- I think first thing is we've got to give it some time after the season ends for a couple reasons: One, to reflect and enjoy and appreciate the season that we just had so that we're not just rushing on to the next thing. We can't make that decision come faster or slow it down, so we may as well enjoy the season we just had and allow him to do the same. And then when it's time, we'll sit down and have that conversation with him, and at that point we'll know where we stand.
Q. Do you have just one conversation with him or other teams are pitching him on their franchises, so do you counter that because financials are pretty much what they are, so how do you handle that situation?
SAM PRESTI: Well, again, not to -- I think number one is not to make it too overly complex. We've had a relationship with Kevin in Oklahoma City for eight years, nine with this particular franchise, and we talk to him all the time. I think when those conversations occur, it's really just a continuation of a dialogue that's been going on for eight or nine years. It's a chance to reflect and recognize that relationship and continue the conversations that we've had on going.
Q. What did you learn about this franchise this year when you look at all the off-the-court things that happened with your owner, with Monty's wife, with Dion's brother? What did you learn about this franchise through that?
SAM PRESTI: I'd say less learning and probably more confirmation that we have a really special group of people. I think we're certainly an organization of high standards, but we're also an organization of compassion, and I think that really was surfaced through the things we had to encounter this year.
And again, as I said before, there are certain things that come your way that are unforeseen and unexpected and unfortunate at different times, and we worked ourselves through those things the best we know how. But again, I think over time we've demonstrated that it's a special group of people here.
Q. When you're making the trade before the deadline for Randy, he's a guy who hasn't played nearly as much point guard in the NBA as he has shooting guard. How do you go about making that decision on the whim when you don't have time in the off-season to talk to him or put him through training camp?
SAM PRESTI: That's a great question. I think a couple things. A guy like Randy Foye you watch for a long time. You've seen him in a lot of different situations. He's been with several different organizations over a period of time. I think one of the real benefits to him that we saw was that he could fill two positions for us, and he's done that in the past. And then additionally, like we have some players on our team that allow him to play different spots, so him and Dion are at different times interchangeable, Cameron showed the ability to play off the ball, and not just one end of the floor. We also felt like Randy could play two positions defensively, which was helpful.
So we're really glad that he came aboard. It's not easy, but when you have as many years of experience as he does and you have the demeanor that he does, it really makes it -- I would say not so much possible but probable that he's going to assimilate well.
Q. At the end of the year last year you concentrated on a coaching change. When did you know that the change with Billy was what you were hoping it would be?
SAM PRESTI: Well, as we talked about at the time, we were really looking for someone in Billy that we felt could continue the progress of the organization, stimulate the organization. I thought he did that effectively. I think the one thing about Billy that can't be underestimated is he himself was handed some circumstances without Mo and without Monty for a good portion of the year, but he remained steadfast.
I think he -- as I pointed out earlier, we were 7-6 at one time, but he was unflinching in his approach to try to build the team in a fashion that, one, could grow through the season; two, could be cohesive; and three, if we were fortunate enough to get to the Playoffs, we could continue to play and improve with the system that was in place. And again, this was only his first season, but I think he got a lot done in year one. You know, again, it was the second best offensive rating in the NBA in the last five years or so. I think Golden State this year was the only team that had a better offensive rating. It was our second best net rating in franchise history, with the best being the year after we went to The Finals. But this was our best net rating in the postseason, and I think, again, that speaks to the work that was done in October.
You know, I have a lot of confidence in him that when he gets hit with a plateau or a difficult situation, he's going to ask really good questions, and he's going to be really consistent in how he solves problems, and he's always trying to make himself better, as well. I thought he had an excellent first year, but I think next year a lot of the firsts will be gone for him, and he'll be maybe even better.
Q. When you saw everything that was happening behind closed doors with him, knowing what you knew after 82, did you foresee this team improving like it did in the Playoffs, not just elevated play but really improved?
SAM PRESTI: Yeah, I wish I could tell you that I could see that coming or I could have predicted that. The truth of the matter is I obviously can't. But what I did see was a real intention and integrity to the work that was being done starting in the summertime. And I personally believe that when you invest in that fashion and you're willing to put foundation in place in front of just maybe pure outcome initially, you'll be rewarded for that. I don't know if that was going to be rewarded in the postseason per se, but I do think we got to a certain point in that 8 out of 12 stretch where you could see there was a progressive momentum to the team, and we were improving in certain areas that maybe aren't as obvious.
But to us, it was. And we got to the postseason and felt as if we could continue to play and win series, it gave this team more runway to improve and discover itself. And that's one of the things I think that is really important about the year is that I think it really was a season of discovery, of learning, of cohesion, and as a result of the length of time we were able to play, I thought it allowed us to find ourselves, find our voice as a team and continue to embrace kind of this identity of the Thunder, which is versatility, size, length, and a group of guys that at the end of the year were really playing for one another.
Q. Not knowing for sure what Kevin is going to do, how does that impact how you move forward in your planning process between now and when he does make the decision in regards to whether you try to make a deal to get into the draft or stay where you are, Dion's situation, et cetera?
SAM PRESTI: Sure. Well, obviously the more clarity you have in any decision-making process, the more it helps you. But like I said earlier, we can't speed that up, and we can't slow it down. We'll get an answer from him at the appropriate time. I think it really is important for him to take his time, get away from things. Look, Kevin is a highly, highly intelligent person. He's a mature person. He's a rational person, and he's going to work through the decision in a way that will help him do what he feels is best for him. We'll react accordingly once we have that information, and we'll try to be as prepared as possible.
Q. You famously showed up at his doorstep the minute he was eligible for an extension last time. Do you plan on doing the same thing?
SAM PRESTI: You know, again, I think we haven't really even transitioned to that level of planning. I think as I said earlier, the first thing is reflecting on the year that we had. We started the year saying we really want to stay present. We really want to enjoy the year as it unfolds, not think so much about what might have happened previously, what could happen in the future. I think we're still a little bit in that mode, and I think deservedly so.
But all of those things, the actual conversation and things of that nature, that'll take its place naturally. Again, like we've been with this player for quite a while, and the way I personally choose to look at it is we've got to take a step back and realize how incredible, how fortunate are we that Kevin Durant has been one of the first players to ever wear a Thunder uniform. He's played for eight years in Oklahoma City. Kids that were six years old watching the Thunder and now 14 years old, and they've watched this evolution of Westbrook, Durant, Ibaka and company through their adolescence, and now we have the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about what looks like an incredibly bright future together. I think you have to embrace that. You have to really lean into that in an excited way without knowing what the outcome might be. But I don't see any reason to shy away from that.
I think we should be really excited about recognizing the relationship, and as I said before, it's a continuation of a dialogue that's been going on for eight, nine years, and it's an opportunity to talk about what the future might hold for us together.
Q. Put in perspective what he was able to do this season, Kevin I'm talking about, given the fact that he was coming off an injury that cost him most of the previous year.
SAM PRESTI: Well, I thought the season he had was just remarkable. One, returning from injury, which none of us can really understand unless you've been an NBA player that's missed a large amount of time due to injury and come back. I'm just really happy for him because I thought he had a lot of fun during the year, and I watched him this time last year in a pool. I remember when he started to just start walking - like it was celebratory - to go from that to having maybe his most efficient year. I thought the way he handled his affairs, as I said before, I've never been more impressed with somebody in that regard.
He allowed the team to really enjoy a wonderful season. He showed tremendous care for the franchise, and that's something that can't be overlooked.
Q. Last week Serge kind of reflected on the season that he had, kind of expanding his game to be a more all-around player. What did you think about the season Serge had?
SAM PRESTI: You know, I thought Serge had a really good season in this respect. I think people look at maybe his shot blocking was down or this -- I think when you are being asked to become more an all-around player, like you said, you're not going to be able to concentrate everything towards one skill. So you're going to like kind of broaden out your contributions to cover more area, and you're not going to be able to just be specifically great as a rim protector. He's still an elite rim protector, but if I'm devising an offensive scheme against the Thunder, the number one thing I'm trying to do is drag Serge Ibaka away from the rim, and then I also think just the way that he performed in the postseason, the way he dealt with Nowitzki, Aldridge, he executed those game plans to a T, and he wasn't going to get a lot of help individually by design, and he was fantastic.
And then to go to the next series and be guarding Harrison Barnes, that to me shows you kind of like this evolution of the player and how helpful he is to our team.
And then the other thing is he shot the ball -- I think he's the fifth best three-point shooter in the postseason of guys that had taken 50 threes. So to have someone that does all those things, again, we can all make numbers look a certain way if we want, but his overall contributions and his acceptance of the role that he needs to play for this team to, as you said earlier, discover itself, I thought he was fantastic.
Q. What are the obstacles on bringing Alex Abrines over, and is there concern that he may never want to come over?
SAM PRESTI: Well, again, in terms of obstacles, I mean, any time you have players overseas, the obstacles are, first, they're under contract with another team; second, you have your own timeline and your own decision pathways that you have to make. The question is whether or not those things can join up at the appropriate times.
You know, our conversations with Alex have always been really productive. We've in constant communication with him. He's having a fantastic year. I'm sure all of his focus and attention right now is on Barcelona, finding a way to make it to the ACB Final again and hopefully winning. But whether or not he joins us this season or future seasons, I think that it's incredible that we have him in our pipeline of young talent.
Q. At the beginning of the season you mentioned a core of guys, Kevin, Russell, Nick, Steven, Serge. Throughout the season has anything changed in your perception of how Serge fits into that core of guys?
SAM PRESTI: Oh, absolutely. I mean, when you look at what that group of guys as a collection have accomplished, and many of you guys have covered it, we've had the second best winning percentage in the league over the last six years. I think we're second in the league in playoff series wins during that period of time. You know, a lot of things. I don't want to sit up here and read our media guide to you. But when you have a group of guys that have gone through that and a continuity, as I said earlier, that's something we've always strived for here, and we believe that's directly connected to sustainable success. That's a tremendous advantage for us.
Q. What will the draft be like this season with no picks?
SAM PRESTI: Well, it's a first. Like we talked about earlier, you know, we're truly an organization of firsts. We're still not 10 years old, and we haven't encountered the situation yet. I'm actually kind of excited by it because it's an opportunity to approach the draft in a different way. It's a way to use our creativity and imagination in ways we haven't. So I'm kind of excited to see where it leads us.
Now, we will prepare for the draft like we're picking 60 times, no different than we've ever done or prepared for any draft, but we can use our minds a little bit differently, trying to decide how to get in, and if we were to get in and who to get in for. I'm kind of looking forward to that.
Again, I feel like the opportunity that we at the trade deadline to get Randy and then to create that much flexibility from a salary cap standpoint, we saved about $9Ã‚Â½ million on that particular transaction, that we can then apply to this season's team or future teams, and we can still find ways to get in the draft.
But we felt like that was the right decision for us, and I think it'll be fun to prepare for a draft with we have to be more creative.
Q. Some of your young guys really showed a lot of improvement as the season went along and especially in the Playoffs. Just your thoughts on what you saw from Steven, Enes, Dre and Dion.
SAM PRESTI: Sure. Well, I wouldn't just limit it to that group of guys. I feel like even guys like McGary and Huestis and Payne, even though they may not have seen as much time, we really saw some tangible improvements from those guys and tried to utilize the blue team as effectively as we could.
But what we've tried to do over a period of time is make sure that we always have a continuation of our roster that could continue to improve as well as a sustainable environment and culture that is as organic as possible, and I think the draft allows that to happen with Dre and Steven as you mentioned.
But we feel like their best basketball is in front of them, all of them. We're hopeful that they'll continue to improve, but not just individually in like individual workouts, but just in their own cohesion together as a team. I think that's what makes those guys unique is I think they fit with the other players on our team.
And we're not looking to identify players that can play in the NBA. We're really looking for players that can grow and thrive within our environment and with our current set of core players, and we feel like those guys fit a certain purpose or a certain calling for us, and hopefully we can continue to help them improve.
Q. Of the improvements that Steven and Andre have made, has that kind of accelerated your thought process in terms of extensions? Steven was a guy who seemed a little more clear-cut about going into the season, but Andre improved as he went into the postseason.
SAM PRESTI: Well, I think we've always taken the approach like the players we've drafted and developed internally, we always make an attempt to try to continue that relationship. Sometimes that's possible and sometimes that's not. It depends on kind of where the guy is and what we're trying to accomplish as a team. But we feel really good about those guys. You know, at the appropriate time we'll sit down and have a conversation. Obviously we have until October 31st to have that conversation, and if it doesn't take place during that period of time, again, we don't have complete certainty as to how everything will look. We can't see that far into the future, but if it doesn't happen by then, then we have an opportunity to go into free agency the next year. But we're really proud of both of them. I think they both impact winning. I think they both fit our identity and complement our core players.
Q. How much does what they accomplished and their progression in the postseason, Steven, Andre, Dion, how much does that play to the message that you want to send to Kevin in regards to coming back next season?
SAM PRESTI: Again, like we're not -- when it comes to those conversations, I think, again, he's here every day. You know what I mean? Well, the one thing we don't want to do is like create or sit down and create some kind of fantasy world or fictional environment where all the stars have to align. We have always focused on trying to build the best organization we possibly can, populate it with great people throughout, treat people well, and try to put a team on the floor that's capable of winning at an incredibly high level consistently.
Those guys and the team as a whole are part of that, but I mean, I think Kevin is a really wise person, and he'll make his decision based on the criteria he thinks is important for himself. I can't speak to that.
Q. You've got several guys on your roster right now who will possibly play this summer. Is there any sort of conversation you're having with those guys about participation?
SAM PRESTI: I mean, those are personal decisions for them, and we've always been really supportive of USA Basketball and always been supportive of our players' wishes in that respect. I don't want to speak for them because I don't know exactly where they are, but we'll pick those conversations up as they get closer to training camp and be supportive of whatever they decide.
Q. At the end of Game 7 watching guys walk up the ramp, and Dion and Enes in particular, this was their first playoff run, they both seemed to take the loss really hard. Did you learn something about them that only the Playoffs could tell you about those guys?
SAM PRESTI: Yeah, I think there's kind of two parts to that question. You know, I think, number one, I'll start with the kind of back part of it. I think one thing is one thing we've always tried not to do is judge other people based on their experiences other places or what other people might have said about them. We saw both Dion and Enes as players that we felt we could acquire and maybe help in our environment grow and develop. Both of them are not -- I think 24 or younger, so their best basketball is in front of them. Sometimes people haven't been put in those situations. You don't know how they're going to react. But one thing about both of them is they're both pretty tough guys, and they're pretty rugged guys. I thought, as I talked about before, development is a process, it's not an event, and they have to go through these different things throughout the season, as the whole team did, quite frankly, but I'm really happy for both of them. I think both of them showed that they can be a part of winning, that they'll make sacrifices in order to be a part of that, and I'm just really pleased for both of them that they had the opportunity, they capitalized on it, because they both bought into what we were asking them to do throughout the season, and I'm excited that they were able to see some results as a result of that.
Q. Are you talking about bringing Dion back?
SAM PRESTI: Again, like we've been through these situations in the past. I never want to speculate on how free agency will go. The only thing I can tell you is it generally bodes well when the player is wanting to be back. Any time you have the opportunity to have a mutual goal, that's always a positive. I do think that in his case, I think the odds are more likely in the event that we're working in partnership. I think it becomes more challenging and more difficult in the event of it becoming an offer sheet type situation.
But we don't have the answers. I can't predict the future. I'm happy for Dion. I think he's working toward realizing his potential, and I'm happy for him.
Q. Anthony Morrow, do you expect him back next season?
SAM PRESTI: You know, we have a date on that contract, but the way I always look at non-guaranteed contracts or things of that nature is until -- there's no reason to do anything. You know what I'm saying? It's not an option or an early termination option for a player. There's no action necessary to be taken, and we really enjoy having A-Mo with us. He's fantastic. I would say one thing about Anthony that is really undervalued or underappreciated is I don't know how many guys -- there's people that can shoot the ball well for a couple years in a row, but this is a guy that really has been an exceptionally consistent, high-level shooter for a majority of his career. That's really hard to do. He's been on different teams, different situations, different coaching staffs, played with different players. He really is a craftsman. He really is a craftsman, and obviously someone that has helped us get to where we are.
Q. Sam, with continuity being so important to this franchise, was there anything that surprised you about the way this season folded out?
SAM PRESTI: Listen, as I said before, I wish I could tell you that I could see these types of things taking place. You know, a lot of things surprised me through the year, some good and some not good. But I think if I had to look at the season, I'd say we really executed on what we tried to do at the beginning of the year, which was really try to embrace the season as it unfolded for us, not looking behind us, not looking in front of us, but really, really embracing what was happening, how we dealt with it, making sure we were staying the course, and really trusting the work that we were putting in.
Again, this was Billy's first season, so a lot of things were firsts, and making sure that there's a foundation in place that could be built upon, not just for this season or the postseason but for many years. I think he was able to get a lot of that done. I thought our players were fantastic sticking to that, and really as I said earlier, discovering more about themselves, and by the end of the season really having something to say as a team of men.
I'm really proud about that. It was a really, really enjoyable group of guys to be around, and it was fun watching them develop. It really was.
Q. For Russell being First-Team All-NBA, obviously last year it was a strange year for him with all the injuries and he kind of had to carry the load. How did you see him evolve into what we saw this year?
SAM PRESTI: Let me make sure I understand the question. Just the success that he enjoyed last year?
Q. When he was playing without so many of the guys that he was with this season. Obviously it was a whole different iteration. How did you see last year benefiting him and how did you see him evolve this year?
SAM PRESTI: Well, every year I've been around this guy, he's improved. I wish I could tell you that in June of 2008 we could have forecasted that this guy was going to be a First-Team All-NBA Hall of Fame level player. The truth of the matter is we couldn't have done that. I do think that credit to the group of people that evaluated him during that period of time, Troy Weaver most namely, but one thing we really did lock in on was we felt like this player was going to get the most out of whatever attributes that they had because of what was inside the jersey, and we didn't realize quite how deep the reservoir of potential was probably, but we felt like he was going to drain it of whatever was there because of how he is wired.
And I think Russell, like he's going to be successful -- if he wasn't born with the talents physically to play NBA basketball and he was going to law school, he'd be a great lawyer. If he was going to medical school, I'd want him working with me. Like he's just a high-achieving individual, and those are the types of people we've always been attracted to here.
We always say we hire people, not positions. We're looking for high potential individual in everything we do, whether it's the head coach, the starting point guard, or the intern that's starting with us for the first time, and I just think Russ is -- he's a force of nature, and not just from an athletic standpoint. We're so fortunate that we have him as a part of the organization. He's been a big part of the propulsive evolution of the Thunder into -- from 2008 until now.
Q. Where is your concern level with Mitch McGary and his career path two years in?
SAM PRESTI: Well, obviously Mitch didn't have the year that I think he wanted to have. It's funny, so many of these things are nuanced. He was a -- he had a great camp. If you remember, we were playing Minnesota in the first preseason game, and he was excellent. It was almost like he was playing in his first preseason game in Denver the year before his rookie year when he got injured. He was playing great in Minnesota. We went to Memphis, he was playing great, and then Matt Barnes concussed him, and he lost about four weeks, I think, or three and a half weeks of training camp, and I think that's challenging with a new coaching staff and with a team that's integrating a lot of new players. I thought that that really set him back.
With all that being said, the thing about McGary that we like is in our grouping of bigs, he is pretty unique, and there's a diversity amongst the different big players that we have. I think with Mitch, I think what you're getting is a guy who can really handle the ball. He's a really good passer, and I think in time, he's going to be a pretty proficient three-point shooter at his size.
We need him to have a good summer. We need to help him with at that. I feel badly he got so far behind and had a hard time getting back because of just the momentum of the season.
But he's a pretty unique talent. We have to continue to work with him to kind of hone it and allow it to be as consistent as possible.
Q. Players often say they don't watch the Playoffs. I don't know if I believe that, but they say that. Do you watch The Finals?
SAM PRESTI: Yeah, I've been with my son during those periods. It's bath time a lot of times. That or getting to try to get him to go to bed, which the third game might start by the time we get him to bed tonight.
But one of the things I think sometimes I like to do is I like to watch games maybe not while they're taking place, but you can always go back, and in today's world of technology, you can go back and watch them later, and I think sometimes that's more helpful. So I'll get around to seeing those. But it's not so much like you can't bear to watch it, because again, we have so much respect for the Warriors. They're a great team and they're a great organization. We were fortunate to play three great organizations during this postseason: Dallas and San Antonio, and then Golden State. I think that's how you get better yourselves. We tip our cap to them. They were fantastic. We wish them well, and we'll watch those games and try to learn from them the best we can, but at the same time once you get done with these seasons, you have to kind of recalibrate and make sure you're taking care of everything else that's much more important, and I've tried to do that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports