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Sam Presti hesitant to say OKC is starting to rebuild

Thunder, Sam Presti

Despite the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder lost Paul George and Russell Westbrook this offseason, general manager Sam Presti isn’t quite ready to say that his team is entering a rebuilding phase.

“I wouldn’t say that we’ve started to rebuild,” Presti told Brett Dawson of The Athletic on Thursday. “The first step is re-positioning the franchise, then replenishing it.

“The Thunder ultimately will have to rebuild the team, but I can’t say when that process will enact itself.”

Presti sent a fond farewell to Westbrook, who was traded to the Rockets for Chris Paul, two future first-round picks (2024 and 2026) and the rights to two first-round swaps (2021 and 2025):

“Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” OKC general manager Sam Presti said in an official statement via ESPN. “He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community.”

George, who spent two seasons with the Thunder before being traded to the Clippers this offseason, thought his decision to leave Oklahoma City was mutual. Presti, however, politely disagreed.

What the future holds for the Thunder is still up for debate. They finished the 2018-19 regular season campaign with a 49-33 overall record, which earned the team a No. 6 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Unfortunately, though, OKC was defeated by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, 4-1.