Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sam Presti

SI's Ian Thompson checks in with an article reviewing the moves of the most active NBA team this offseason, the Seattle Sonics. Seattle's new 30-year old general manager Sam Presti is garnering a lot of attention, and his decisions to trade Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis will forever be etched in the minds of Seattle (Oklahoma?) fans.

The Ray Allen trade seems to make good business sense. At age 31, the laws of the NBA say that shooting guards tend to decline. Allen's contract is backloaded with $51 million due to him over the next three years. While Ray was a stud offensively, word has it that his lack of defensive effort spread throughout the team after Nate McMillian's departure. Throw in the fact that skinny 19-year old Kevin Durant is going to take a couple years to develop and peak in the NBA, and there is no use for the Sonics to overpay a declining superstar coming off double ankle surgery. The arena situation in Seattle is looking dire, so management is better off trimming salary now and building a team capable of winning more later on into the future, even if it is in another state.

The Orlando Magic have signed Rashard Lewis signed for six years and $126 million, thanks to a sign and trade deal with Seattle. The Sonics receive a trade exemption and a future second round pick. Sam Presti has actually received even more praise on this one. For comparison's sake, there are 21 other NBA players who are currently playing out max contracts, including the likes of Lebron, Dirk, Melo, AI, T-Mac, O'Neal, Brand, Kobe, Shaq, Wade, Garnett, Marion, Bosh, and Duncan, all of whom are more talented and effective than Lewis. While the future looks bright for Stan Van Gundy in Orlando, the Magic have definitely overpaid for a scoring forward that does not play defense, bang it out for some boards, or create plays for others.

Of course, Sam Presti's daring moves may look smart now, but let us see what happens when the Sonics fail to reach the playoffs for the fifth time in six years while the Celtics and the Magic tear them apart in their four combined meetings and make the playoffs in the much more forgiving eastern conference. Just keep in mind that the Sonics are not aiming to win so much now as they are investing in the future several years down the road.