Who is Sam Presti? 5 things to know about the OKC Thunder general manager


There’s a perfect storm brewing in Oklahoma City.

For the first time since 2020, the OKC Thunder will participate in the NBA playoffs. OKC (57-25) is the No. 1 seed in the West and will face the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round.

The Thunder are the biggest breakout team in the league and the man behind the magic is executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti.

Presti, 46, has been in charge of the franchise since it moved from Seattle to OKC in 2008. He is the longest active general manager in the NBA.

Here are five things you need to know about Presti:

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Sam Presti started with the San Antonio Spurs

After graduating from Emerson College in 1999, Presti interned in San Antonio.

Presti then rose from video coordinator to vice president and assistant general manager in 2005.

Presti is credited with recommending that San Antonio select Tony Parker with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Parker went on to win four championships with the Spurs.

Presti was part of three of those championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

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Sam Presti became general manager of the Seattle SuperSonics in 2007

Presti became Seattle’s general manager on June 7, 2007, at the age of 29. At the time, he was the NBA’s youngest general manager and the second-youngest in the league’s history.

Presti was hired just three weeks before the NBA Draft and he made an immediate impact.

Presti drafted Kevin Durant with the No. 2 overall pick. He also completed his first trade by acquiring Jeff Green, the No. 5 overall pick, in a deal that sent Ray Allen to Boston.

Presti then drafted Russell Westbrook with the No. 4 overall pick in 2008. He also drafted Serge Ibaka with the No. 24 overall pick, who Seattle acquired in a 2007 sign-and-trade deal that sent Rashard Lewis to Orlando.

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Sam Presti, Thunder failed to re-sign James Harden in 2012

OKC reached the 2012 NBA Finals but lost a key contributor this offseason.

The Thunder failed to sign then-23-year-old James Harden to a contract extension. Presti reportedly offered a four-year extension worth $55 million, which was $4.5 million less than the max contract Harden wanted.

With Harden set to become a restricted free agent the following offseason, OKC traded him to Houston on October 27, 2012. The Thunder sent Harden, Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward to the Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks (who became Steven Adams and Mitch McGary) and a second-round pick (who became Alex Abrines).

Harden became a 10-time All-Star and won the MVP award with Houston in 2018.

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Thunder have a wealth of young talent, draft capital thanks to Sam Presti

OKC has one of the most promising futures in the NBA thanks to Presti’s work.

His biggest trade came on July 10, 2019, when he acquired Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from the Los Angeles Clippers. OKC received traded Paul George in exchange for Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks and the rights to trade two other first-round picks.

Presti then had success in the 2022 draft, selecting Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick and Jalen Williams with the No. 12 overall pick.

Presti has also amassed a wealth of draft capital over the years. OKC has fourteen first-round picks and twenty second-round picks between now and 2030.

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Sam Presti is still looking for his first championship with Thunder

The Thunder have not won a championship since the franchise moved to OKC in 2008.

The closest OKC came to a title was in 2012. The team suffered a 4-1 series loss to Miami in the NBA Finals.

But OKC took a huge step in the right direction this season. The Thunder are the youngest No. 1 seed in NBA history for either conference.

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