Sam Presti On Trading For Gordon Hayward: ‘I Missed On That, That’s On Me’

For years, there have been calls for the Oklahoma City Thunder to make a major swing on the trade market. Those calls got even louder in the early portion of this season, when it was clear the Thunder were a special team and aren’t that far away from making the NBA Finals. But instead of really dipping into their stash of draft picks and pool of young talent, Sam Presti opted to make a smaller trade at the deadline to bring veteran forward Gordon Hayward to Oklahoma City.

The move didn’t work, as Hayward wasn’t particularly effective for the Thunder and fell out of the rotation entirely at the end of their second round series against the Dallas Mavericks — he received DNP-CDs in each of the final three games of the series, which the Mavs went on to win. Presti was asked to reflect on the decision to acquire the former All-Star while he met with the media on Tuesday, and gave a rather blunt answer about the deal and how it was a learning experience.

“I missed on that, that’s on me,” Presti said. “But I’m learning, I’m trying to learn this team, I’m trying to learn the pace of the team a little bit, and just trying to be a great observer of the team as it’s going through these paces, knowing that it’s really gonna change on its own in and of itself. Our team, the last 20 games, was significantly different than the first 20 games. This is the same players, but significantly different, and every time someone changes or develops or we stumble onto something, it changes the rest of the team and how they can perform.

“I think it’s pretty nuanced and texturized,” he continued. “But I don’t think I read that one perfect, and I’m learning from that, in terms of bringing somebody midseason, especially early on in the process for our team.”

Hayward had previously said that his time with the Thunder was “not what I thought it would be.” It’s worth wondering if the lesson for Presti here revolved around bringing in somebody midseason, or whether Hayward specifically just didn’t work out for some reason. Still, this is an unusually refreshing answer from an executive about team building and how making the right move (or standing still) is more important making a move that could end up backfiring.