Sam Presti the general manager for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder said late Monday he had a good indication that superstar forward Kevin Durant would leave the Thunder before the official announcement was made by Durant about becoming a member of the Golden State Warriors.
When you are in this business long enough, there are means both known and not known to attempt to understand and to interpret where decisions are likely headed and so the team had a good indication that this outcome was a possibility.
Presti told reporters that Durant gave him a call to let him know of his decision prior to posting it with The Players’ Tribune.
He said he was aware a few minutes prior to the media knowing as he said Durant called him while with his business manager and agent and that Kevin had been great during the conversation.
Durant told Presti he left the Thunder to pursue another challenge and to step outside his longtime comfort zone.
Presti said Durant and he would likely talk at some time in the future. He added that the two had worked nine years together and that he completely respected Durant.
Presti added that the conversation Durant and he had was not an easy one and he appreciated that Durant had called him.
Presti also said that he had not been in communication with his talented guard Russell Westbrook by phone but that they exchanged text messages and Westbrook spoke with other members of the staff.
The Thunder GM said he hoped to speak with Westbrook as well as the other members of the team on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The two meetings the Thunder held with Durant did not involve any Thunder players, while the Clippers, Celtics and Warriors brought in players to help pitch to Durant.
Presti when asked about why players like Westbrook were not involved, he answered how do you know that. He said Westbrook and Nick Collison had met with Durant prior to any of the meetings with team management.
Most NBA pundits believe the Thunder will now negotiate a long-term extension with their point guard Westbrook as next summer he will become an unrestricted free agent.
Others feel an extension might not be the answer but that a blockbuster trade may do the team more good.
The Thunder will have about $20 million of cap space with Durant gone. Presti said contingency plans had been set up by the team in case Durant had left.