Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti still doesn't sound scared about Kevin Durant's free agency. Presti said at the end of the Thunder's season that he was excited about talking to Durant about the future of the team, and he did not deviate from that in an interview with Ken Berger and Jody McDonald on CBS Sports Radio's Eye On Basketball show.
"I have no insight into what Kevin's decision ultimately will be, and I can't speak to what the actual process might be -- that's for him and his representation to determine," Presti said. "Obviously we'll be taking part in it and taking our cues there. But as I said earlier, I think for us it's an opportunity to be pretty excited about, quite frankly, to really get excited about and lean into because we have the opportunity to sit down with not only a player but a person that has really defined the Thunder, and I would say Oklahoma City for that matter as well, for the better part of a decade. And at the same time, it's also someone that we know and that knows us and that we communicate with over a long period of time.
"It's a chance to reflect on that relationship and then, I think, really get excited about what could be an incredibly bright future together," Presti continued. "I'd like to think that we've been preparing for these types of things and for this particular occasion for the nine years that we've been together."
Presti brought up the fact that Durant has seen the organization grow from when it did not have a logo, a uniform or a practice facility in Oklahoma City. Durant won 20 games as a rookie with the Seattle SuperSonics and 23 in the Thunder's inaugural season. He quickly grew into a franchise player and the Thunder grew into a force.
"The thing about it is we've been with him for, let's see, this will be nine years that we've been together," Presti said. "And one of the things we've tried to do is be as authentic as possible to the relationship and honor the relationship the way we would normally. And we always give him and all of our players space after the season to decompress because it's such a long grind. But we also have relationships that are not just business relationships but personal relationships as well. The conversations that we have, we want to try to keep those as natural as possible. We also understand that it's obviously a significant, significant summer for him. But we don't want to be any different than we ever have. I don't think that would honor the relationship correctly."
It is notable that Presti is not issuing any public proclamations that Oklahoma City will get the job done and retain him. He is not trying to sell Durant on re-signing through the media. None of that is his style, and none of it would work in this situation.
Everyone knows how much Durant means to the organization and to the city, and vice versa. After losing to the Golden State Warriors in seven games, he did not sound like he was thinking about leaving town. In these weeks in between the end of the year and the start of free agency, though, it is his job to figure out where his loyalty to the Thunder fits into his decision-making process. He must do what's best for him, and he must determine his priorities. Right now, Presti can't do much except give him some space.
At a certain point, though, Presti's casual conversations with Durant will lead to the biggest meeting in franchise history. You better believe he will be prepared for it.