Sam Presti is once again in a tough spot. The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted three of the league’s last five MVPs, but now none of those players are on the roster.
OKC general manager was put in an unenviable position when Paul George asked for a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers to join Kawhi Leonard this summer. Presti was forced to oblige, and got a great haul of picks as return.
George and Leonard held their press conference with Los Angeles this week, and during his comments George characterized the request for the trade as “mutual” between himself and OKC.
Presti didn’t agree.
You can understand Presti feeling slightly miffed here. He’s right in that small market teams like the Thunder are at a disadvantage. Those organizations have a more difficult time keeping their stars, particularly as the supermax hasn’t worked quite the way it was intended after it was implemented in the last CBA.
To that end, it’s been suggested by folks that something needs to be done to ensure things going completely off the rails in the era of player empowerment. Perhaps in the next CBA, all max contracts will have no-trade mandates for the first two years? Or compensatory picks a la the NFL could be given to teams whose stars demand a trade, privately or publicly?
It’s well and good to be pro-labor, and thus pro-player movement. Players switching teams is exciting, churns the news cycle, and is part of what makes this an 11-month league. But teams need to ensure they can remain competitive, and keep fan interest, lest we just decide that playing NBA basketball in small markets is a charade in and of itself in 2019.
The solution isn’t clear just yet, and bargaining between the owners and players will water down whatever the best idea is, anyway. I have little faith that they’ll be able to hammer out something that works entirely during this next round, but these things take time and it’s only with the clear view of failure can success be seen around the bend.