During an episode if The Ringers podcast, “The Bill Simmons Show,” Bill Simmons and Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix talked about the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers Pursuing Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti. Both agreed that it would be the best course of action but doubts that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss would go after Presti and give him full control of the franchise.
“The worst-case scenario for all those teams is if Jeanie (Buss) looks around one day, as she’s having people on the deck with all her advisers — all of whom are just either taking money from her or whatever. And she looks around and goes, ‘Maybe I get that guy, Sam Presti from Oklahoma City? And I’ll just pay him $50 million a year. And he could just run this and fix this.’ That would be a worst-case scenario for the league. And Presti’s just sitting there now as, you know, Masai (Ujiri) is in Toronto. The Boston situation seems pretty stable at this point. Clippers are stable. Golden State’s stable. If you’re just talking about like, who’s the big-ticket name out there that could immediately fix your franchise? I would say it’s Presti. I don’t know if he’d want to work for the Lakers. I grew up in Massachusetts. But it’s kind of hard for me to believe she wouldn’t look at this and go, ‘Our team can’t find or keep talent. We made wrong decisions pretty much all the time except for the Anthony Davis trade which, by the way, we gave up more assets in that trade than anyone’s ever given up in an NBA trade ever. Maybe I need to bring somebody in who actually knows what they’re doing.’”
Mannix responded to this by agreeing that hiring Presti would solve a lot of the Lakers’ problems but says he has a hard time seeing it actually happen.
“I don’t know if he’d want to work there either, but I think another opportunity, a big one, would appeal to him. A whole truckload of money — which the Lakers could offer — would appeal to him. I’m 100% sure that if Sam Presti took a job like that, he would only take it if he could pink-slip everybody in the organization and he could tell every member of the Buss family, besides Jeanie, that they should lose his number and they do not have access to the front office and their input is no longer required.
“Owners always have input. Like Jeanie Buss should have input in what goes on with that team. Every owner does including, by the way, Clay Bennett in Oklahoma City. So that’s not an issue. But like everybody else? You’re gone. I’m building out my own staff. I’m doing my own thing. And I’m going to do this my way. Which I’m not so sure that Jeanie Buss would give. She seems satisfied with this.”
Presti is one of the longest tenured general managers in the league, being on the helm since 2007. When asked about his long-term future with the franchise during his exit interview, Presti alluded to the fact that he’s not going to be the Thunder GM forever and said that one day, someone else would take his place — which, duh, that’s obvious; Presti is right that he literally won’t be the only GM in Thunder history. But it seems like that Presti is committed to seeing the rebuild through at the very least.
This also isn’t the only time Presti and the Lakers have been mouthed in the same sentence this year as Lebron James praised him during All-Star weekend by calling him the “real MVP” of the team due to his drafting history.
Nonetheless, I have a hard time seeing Presti leave to go to the Lakers. I doubt Presti would want to waste so much time politicking with Buss to curry favors when he has ultimate power in Oklahoma City.