Dean's Blog: Presti Hits Home Run But KD's Feet The Focus Now
OKLAHOMA CITY - If the feet of Kevin Durant come through as much as Thursday's feats of Sam Presti, the Thunder could sprint to glory this season and be on a successful journey in the long-term.
The cold hard fact remains as true today as it did three years ago when others chided yours truly for proclaiming that OKC might be required to win an NBA Championship to get the next signature of the world's greatest scorer. Clearly, KD is tight with his agent and friend JayZ, who is not nearly that tight with the notion of Durant extending his stay in little ol' Oklahoma City.
Like all in their twenties, KD has changed, is changing, and is not the same “politically correct” mouthpiece you've grown to love. His admiration of JayZ has played a key role in his personal evolution. Safe to say that some of that may not jive with the basic conservative lifestyle and environment we've grown accustomed to on these Fruited Plains. We can save the rest of this discussion for a later day, but from what I've observed and what I've learned from people with knowledge, the 2015 Kevin Durant is much more independent, shall we say, than the earlier Kevin Durant.
Selling the 2015 KD on anything outside of a championship and the promise of competing for years to come will probably not be enough to keep the loyal Longhorn in the Sooner state.
So the massive trade-day overhaul executed yesterday by General Manager Presti was not only significant in increases Big Blue's chances of winning this season, but it has the potential of winning the big prize after next: The John Henry of the Lanky Longhorn.
Kudos once again to Sam I Am. The Boston Redhead appears to have gone deep enough to sail well past his beloved Green Monster. Adding four uniquely gifted, needed and affordable pieces at literally the last minutes before the trade deadline took all the well-established talents of Sudden Sam.
It was complicated just following what options Presti was considering. Presti's poise and intelligence reigned when it was time to pull the trigger. Brook Lopez might've been nice but from here adding a healthy, young, promising Enes Kanter makes a lot more sense. Especially when you throw in the other booty.
Kanter is the low-post scorer Sir Charles has forever suggested that OKC needed to win it all. If nothing else, Kanter has shut up Chuck.
Kanter's Utah teammate Steve Novak is a career 43.4 percent 3-point shooter. Hello. Let that sink in. 6-foot-10 43 percent 3-point shooter.
Kyle Singler is a 40.6 percent 3-pointer. Doesn't hurt that he's a Dukie, is 6-8, plays hard and fast and that my pal Jon Berry told me last night he thinks Singler's a “steal.”
Thrown in future starter Anthony Morrow and the Thunder now have three 40 percent 3-point shooters—not including KD. Not long ago we all complained long and loud about not having any. Now KD and Russ have three!
Westbrook's brilliance in driving and dishing was an absolute thing of beauty in last night's win over Dallas. He'll only get better with shooters that will pay off his darts and set-ups. And of course with the brilliance of the world's best scorer and most dependable 3-point shooter in Durant, all three of these guys should ultimately see their numbers rise. Particularly, when you add Barkley's low-post threat.
The fourth piece is another Longhorn, which no doubt will please You Know Who. KD's Texas teammate DJ Augustin can't defend, is not a threat from deep and has played on more teams than you'd like. But the 6-footer is a bonafide pass-first point guard.
That alone, and the fact that Reggie Jackson's unprofessional attitude had become toxic, make the deal all that much sweeter. Jackson is skilled driving to the basket and shooting free throws. But you can bust me if I want to keep a sourpuss who dribbles too much, shoots too much and plays with an unearned arrogance that had run its course in OKC. Good riddance Reg. Enjoy Motor City.
Then there's Perk. I really hate to see the old brawler go. I won't miss the skillet hands. The 5.2 forty. The 16-inch vertical. I will not long for the 2-foot jumper that came up one-foot short, the moving screen or the technical foul at just the worst time. Nor will I miss apologists telling us how well he's been shooting in practice or how he's the best picker since Burl Ives.
But I will miss Perk centering the pass to Russ after the opening tip. I'll miss Perk's mouth-wide-open run-of-innocence, with that priceless look of astonishment that a referee would dare have the audacity to call a foul on the Beaumont Brawler.
Seriously, Perk was very good to the OKC franchise. All champions are tough. Perk made the Thunder tough. As a player, I always liked walking into a stadium standing next to LeeRoy and Dewey Selmon. It feeds that macho instinct in all of us. And Perk's toughness was not just talk. The guy defended. And banged with the biggest, baddest and best-est of them.
However in the end, Perk needed to walk, just like Reggie. Presto, Presti did it. He unsuccessfully looked at ways of parting with Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb. Too bad. Jones seems struck with an on-court aloofness that begets a lack of confidence that will always beget ultimate failure. Lamb? Meek. A talented but inconsistent shooter, and not much else. First to get him to smile wins a hundred dollars.
On this day, Thunder fans should be the ones with the lasting smiles. Their reputed genius GM lived up to it yesterday. Sam Presti may have just saved the season. And more importantly, may have just saved the franchise from seeing KD bid farewell.
Can Presti give a good foot massage? That's the pressing question now.