Sam Presti equals quality GM. Yes, he has made mistakes (like everyone else), but there is no way to shortchange his GM rating after this past NBA offseason – he was able to obtain both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony without giving up an All-Star player or first round draft pick. Pause…reflect… Paul George and Carmelo Anthony played for Team USA, have a combined 14 NBA All-Star appearances between them, and average 20+ points per game. (Okay, so Paul George technically averages 18.1 points per game for his career but last season the number was 23.) In return, the Thunder sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis for George, and for Carmelo, the Thunder parted ways with Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second round pick. How did Presti pull this trade off at the “Thunder Discount” value?
Perhaps it is cliché to always compare a master manipulator to a Sith Lord, namely Palpatine, but the cliché applies here. Presti, as well as everyone around the league, knew that both players wanted to leave their current team. The Knicks, choosing to build their team around Kristaps Porzingis, even if prudent, had to taste bitter for Carmelo Anthony, a player who demands the center of attention. (Remember Carmelo’s reaction to those few weeks of “Linsanity”? ) Paul George, on the other hand, just wanted out of Indiana. With apologies to the great fans of Indiana, enduring a roster rebuild in the city of Indiana with dreams of Los Angeles (or other cities) on his mind was too much for George to handle.
Now with availability established, Presti unleashed his master plan just like Chancellor Palpatine in Attack of the Clones, tricking acting Senator Jar Jar Binks into making a motion that would grant Palpatine “emergency” full power, only Presti was just interested in obtaining NBA basketball players, not world domination. It’s easy to imagine Presti cautioning Indiana Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard, “No, you don’t want to trade Paul George to Boston, a rival team in the same conference. No, that’s not a good move.” (Never mind the fact that Boston had the best assets to offer for Paul George. ) Regarding Carmelo, well, that was probably an even easier sell after Phil Jackson did his best to devalue Carmelo Anthony last year. Sure, Carmelo isn’t exactly a willing passer or in his prime, but his value is still far better than Kanter, McDermott, and a second round pick. Again, Presti nabbed both players without giving up an All-Star or first round pick.
The NBA’s history shows that teams usually don’t fare well after losing their superstar. Actually, that’s too kind. A more accurate description is that those teams never really recover. Don’t believe me? How is Orlando doing since Dwight Howard left? How about Cleveland after LeBron left? (Fortunately for Cleveland, LeBron returned.) Uhm, Miami? You get the picture.
Instead of going away quietly after losing Kevin Durant, Presti assembled a starting five that can match buckets with anyone. Sure, the bench needs work, but a team must have a crunch time lineup before addressing a bench. The NBA seasons starts soon, so let’s enjoy Presti’s work.
Well done, Mr. Presti.
Photo Attribution: Paul George Chrishmt0423 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D. Carmelo Anthony Keith Allison CC BY-SA 2.0