Seventeen seasons ago, Sam Presti was made general manager of the then-Seattle Supersonics for the 2007-08 season. One of his first decisions after joining the Supersonics organization was to draft Kevin Durant, who would become the first of various elite talents that Presti would acquire during his tenure.
After drafting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in his first three drafts as general manager, certain trade decisions would play a significant role in OKC’s contention window and the team’s rebuild in the 2020s. Here’s a look at three times Sam Presti fleeced his counterparts in the trade market.
Trades Sam Presti absolutely won: 3. Paul George and Serge Ibaka
The Thunder kicked off an important 2016 offseason by saying goodbye to one of its core players: Serge Ibaka. According to many reports at the time, Ibaka was expected to leave the Thunder at the end of the 2016-17 season when his contract ended as he was disgruntled with his role.
Instead of letting Ibaka walk for nothing, the Thunder received third-year guard Victor Oladipo, Rookie big man Domantas Sabonis, and Ersan Ilyasova from the Orlando Magic for the services of the big man. Out of the three players, Oladipo was the most significant contributor as he was the second-leading scorer on a Thunder team that made the playoffs the following season.
The contributions of Oladipo, Sabonis, and Ilyasova were solid but nothing extraordinary however this return would soon become significant when the Thunder made their next big trade.
In July 2017, The Thunder would trade for multiple-time All-Star Paul George in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Paul George would be a Thunder player for two seasons with the forward ending up as an MVP candidate in his final year, finishing third in MVP voting and making All-NBA first-team. Compare this with the return that Orlando got from Ibaka: an unsuccessful six-month stint before moving him for Terrence Ross and a late pick.