So, it sucks to be a Thunder fan right now. Kevin Durant, the face of your team for as long as your team has existed, has left for your rivals. Your title hopes are, for the immediate future, nonexistent. How do you deal with this shock? (Other than, you know, coating a Durant jersey in kerosene and opening up on it with semiautomatic rifles?)
Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti met with the media yesterday, after Durant has announced his decision, and Presti’s final answer was his most poetic. (The full press conference transcript is here.)
I think that’s great stuff: not one knock on Durant throughout, but a sense of appreciation for everything he did. Twenty-something franchises would kill for a run of contention like OKC has had, and if Presti has his way, even Durant’s exit won’t end the institutional foundation that he helped lay.
This is, obviously, a billion times better than Dan Gilbert’s reaction to LeBron James’s exit. It still kind of burns that Gilbert wasn’t punished in any way for his haughtiness.
Not that OKC fans will be able to relax anytime soon. Russell Westbrook is a free agent next year, and it’s been reported that there’s “no chance” he re-ups with the Thunder before then. From which news proceeds the logical and likely strategy of looking into trading Westbrook, maybe as early as this summer, so they can get something for losing him and not have to move forward with Enes Kanter as their only max player.
Presti is the reassuring voice of reason today, but if and when Westbrook goes, it’s not going to be easy to sell a lengthy rebuild to a fanbase that’s really never known what it’s like to lose.