Sam Turns Thunder Green to Gold

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 1:34 pm
By: News 9

Originally Published: Mar 4, 2011 9:18 AM CDT

Thunder GM <strong>Sam Presti</strong> is on a roll. I&rsquo;ve said all along that two things could keep the trade that sent two important starters from OKC to Boston for <strong>Kendrick Perkins</strong> from sour. One that could do some serious damage long term to the franchise. <br/><br/>Thefirst was the health of Perkins. The Thunder feels comfortable withthat issue, despite the fact the big man won&rsquo;t play for Big Blue foranother fifteen days or so. Knees fine. <br/><br/>The second was whetherPerkins would sign an extension with OKC, or would he play out whatwould be the final third of the season and go elsewhere. That issue wastaken care of Monday night when Perkins decided to unpack for a lengthystay in God&rsquo;s Country. A four-year deal for a reported $35 mill.<br/><br/>Many of us felt it would be hard for little ol&rsquo; OKC to keep players like <strong>Kevin Durant</strong>and extend contracts for players like Perkins. Players who&rsquo;ve been withthe best of the best. For Perkins to say things like &ldquo;I&rsquo;m impressedwith everything. It&rsquo;s a first class organization.&rdquo; Said he loves theway things are handled. He was here four days and called the staff&ldquo;unbelievable.&rdquo; <br/><br/>Keeping Durant and Perkins means winning andwinning attracts more players like Durant and Perkins. That may be astretch, but you get the point. The windy flatlands will house enoughtall guys who know how to defend and shoot that the question will behow deep in the playoffs this team will go in the coming years and notif this team can make the playoffs. Players like winning. And playerslike good guys. OKC will win and they&rsquo;ll do it with good guys. Andthey&rsquo;ll do it with an organization that is first-class in a city whoserabid support played a big role in OKC signing the best availableplayer to plug their hole in the middle.<br/><br/>I&rsquo;m sure Presti has worked on re-signing rising point guard<strong> Russell Westbrook</strong>.With Perkins secured, superstar Sam can now turn his full attention togetting a deal done with Westy; a player who still produces moreturnovers than Dunkin Donuts but also makes ESPN&rsquo;s Top Ten as much asSteve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo. <br/><br/>TheThunder have already exercised the fourth year option on the contractof the Left coast cager. Now it&rsquo;s time for Presti to piece together anappealing deal for his precocious 22 year-old who is a former Pac-10Defensive Player of the Year. It was touch and go in LaLA land playingjust two college seasons and not having enough offensive skills to evenaverage double figures. How smart is Sam? The Sam who smart enough tobe a Rhodes Scholar. No better example of how bright Presi is how muchforesight he has and how much homework he does than drafting Westbrookat No. 4. That&rsquo;s much higher than anyone else would have dreamed oftaking him. But Presti takes the 8 points per game collegian and seeshim in three years become a 22 point a game All-Pro. I hate usingexclaimation points but that deserves one. !<br/><br/>We don&rsquo;t know whatall goes in to a max contract, but give the whirling dervish one. Geton the horn Sam. Call your bean counter and give him the orders: &ldquo;Weare keeping Westy. Give him the max. Maxine him. Let&rsquo;s draw up a littleMaxton at Speedy Claxtonsome Maxwell Smartyou know, some Don Adams.This is one time the Max is better than sax&rdquo; The bottom line isWestbrook deserves no less and can get no more than a max contract. <br/><br/>Tome it&rsquo;s not if, but when Westbrook signs, the Thunder will have thetriumvirate of talent that will match anything this side of Miami.Minimally, it&rsquo;ll be good enough to contend in the west; probably goodenough to make it to a Final. For several years. Maybe longer. Checkwith KD on how long. Keep his zip code in Oklahoma County and look outleague. <br/><br/>Why so cocksure? Simple. Presti would trot out thebest low-post defender, an explosively athletic point guard and TheFranchisethe league&rsquo;s leading scorer and a player in Durant, whomgeneral managers voted by a wide margin that they&rsquo;d choose first tobuild a franchise. <br/><br/>We won&rsquo;t get deep into the next piece ofthe puzzle. But he&rsquo;s from the Congo and has 18 siblings. He got screwedin the Slam Dunk Competition and is just learning to play basketball.Just a babe. A long babe. Long and strong babe. <strong>Serge Ibaka</strong>could be the key to getting these guys over the top. If Ibaka doesn&rsquo;timprove to expectations, the Thunder could ship him. For heavy ransom.But OKC would have the luxury of deciding whether he was good enough toturn the Tremendous Trio into a Fab Four. <br/><br/>I think Ibaka willthrive in the next twelve months. The 6-10 power forward who routinelyreads his Bible before every game. I was enamored the first time I sawthat raw, God-given talent gracefully running up and down thecourtswishing and swatting shots. Serge I-Blocka. He could and shouldbecome the fourth cornerstone of the organization. Potentially, that&rsquo;sfour guys who can really play the game. <br/><br/>If that happens, thenPresti arguably the MVP of the entire organization would be on theprowl for a shooting guard and complimentary players. His track recordsuggests the due diligence he puts in will result in thosecomplimentary players being good enough to warrant a heavy dose ofcompliments. Much easier to find those No. 5 -12 players than to findand sign the 1s, 2s, 3, and 4s. <br/><br/>We all knew that Presti andClay and Aubrey and the rest of the Treasure Trovers had socked somenice geeter back for a rainy day. The plan is working as they justcapitalized with some of that capital they&rsquo;d stowed back for a guy likePerk. The &ldquo;extra&rdquo; money (prudently saved with fiscal restraint missingin today&rsquo;s governance) is coming in handy and sure to pay big dividends.<br/><br/>Frugalthinking is bearing fruit. A lot of that well earned/saved money willcontinue to come in handy with the upcoming cash guzzling deals withMuscle Russell and Sudden Serge. Get that tandem signed and I&rsquo;m callingon the First Lady of the State to set aside a special day for ourfearless young leader: &ldquo; Wham-Bam Thank-You Sam&rdquo; Day in Oklahoma. Nicering to it. We&rsquo;re big on Sams. Sam Presti, Sam Bradford and Sam&rsquo;s Club.Texas has more oil, people and money. We have more Sams. Florida hasmore water, more money and more old people. We have more Sams. Samcontest? Count us in. <br/><br/><br/><strong>Note to owners</strong>: <em>Gentlemen,No. 1 agenda item: Get a John Hancock from Significant Sam. One yearlonger than a lifetime contract. Clayton needs to get his buds togetheron this one. Serious. Bring in Jeffrey, Bill, Bob, Aubrey, Tom, Everettand Jay. I assume Sam will want to see this project through, but don&rsquo;tdare let this guy slip out the side pocket. We don&rsquo;t want an IsaiahThomas calling the shots.</em><br/><br/><br/>Haven&rsquo;t heard much about thecost of living factor in all this. Boston&rsquo;s $22M already had them $14Mbehind OKC&rsquo;s 36M deal. $22M in OKC would go a lot further than the sameamount in Boston. And $36M in OKC will go tons further than $22M inBoston. Simple match screams OKC. Clearly, Presti sold the thickthumper on more than the cost of living index. But you can bet Perkins&rsquo;agent was totin&rsquo; around a calculator. One allergic to small numbers. <br/><br/>Whenthe dust settles at the OK Corral, the big question remains: whatconvinced Perkins go from an emotional departure leaving close friendsalong with his championship caliber NBA thoroughbred franchise inBoston, to in just three short days to making a hefty commitment withOKC? <br/><br/>With the media in OKC, Perkins has playfully scoffed atanything and everything green. But is the simple answer to the $36million dollar question, the color green? Following the money trail isusually key number one, two and three. And one, two, three is exactlyhow the OKC brass has decided to steer its ship: Durant, Westbrook,Perkins; not necessarily in that order. <br/><br/>Hey, don&rsquo;t forgetnumber four. Presti may not hit it a long way, but he can sure keepscore. Nothing like being pencil whipped. And it looks like the secondmost famous Sam round these parts has just done that to the rest of theNBA.&#160;