10 Day Diary: Sam Presti & Daryl Morey

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 7.48.04 amHouston and Oklahoma City had very successful seasons, largely on the back of two historical individual campaigns. The James Harden/Rockets (55-27) and Russell Westbrook/Thunder (47-35) combos outperformed most national predictions and even managed to exceed the mostly accurate over/under predictions coming out of Vegas.

Despite the bitter end to both seasons, the franchises (those in charge and those who support) need to remind themselves of where they came from. Westbrook Sam Presti managed to take his team back to the playoffs despite losing a top 3 player. For Harden Daryl Morey, reaching the second round after significant changes to coaching staff and personnel should be considered a building block rather than any kind of failure.

However, in order to build upon their 2016/17 season they cannot afford to lose their go to guys. “Losing them” is a distinct possibility from two different angles.

A) If either were to knock back extension offers then the possibility of losing them in Free Agency becomes very real.
B) Even if under contract, either could become disenfranchised and start acting in a way that is detrimental to the overall team.

If Presti and Morey don’t continue to build properly around their franchise guys (more importantly, to their liking) then they may be faced with a disgruntled star. Options A and B are always a possibility and mean a GM has to trade away their star player before losing them for nothing. Both Morey and Presti had this occur in recent seasons and will be desperate to not repeat it again.

With possibly the most important 10 day stretch for any GM coming up at the end of June, let’s take a look at what the diaries of Presti and Morey might look like from June 22nd to July 1st.


Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 6.24.24 pm

Thursday June 22nd – It’s Draft Day…

Sam Presti
Achieved Today:
Draft Completed, Traded for a 2nd Rounder, Drafted Kennard & Morris.

Notes:
> Luke Kennard slid down the board a little in our opinion and we had to snap him up. And when Monte Morris was there in the 50’s, I knew I could get back in through Phoenix’s pick 54. Maybe he goes undrafted and we avoid a trade with the Suns but I didn’t want to risk it. No gambles this off-season.
> We tried to move the Enes Kanter contract but ultimately didn’t find a deal we liked enough. There was a bit of traction with Brooklyn for one of their 20’s picks but they backed away pretty quickly from that one. We may be stuck with Enes for this season. Might have to consider moving Victor instead?
> Stan called about a Pick 12/Oladipo package actually. Didn’t get very far though. I didn’t like who was left. I likely would have taken Kennard there anyway, so we got great value at our pick for him.

Things To Do:
Contact agents (Jok & Humphries) for Summer League, Get team list together for V.O trades, Contact BKN about Singler.
calendar-image-png-3Daryl Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Complete Draft,
Try trade up the order, Draft a high upside talent. 

What Happened?
>  That draft was wild! Would have loved to have had a first rounder but it was fun to sit back and watch. Fox going #2 and Lonzo Ball sliding was not expected at all.
> We did try and package our two picks in the 40s when Harry Giles kept sliding. We couldn’t get above Orlando at #33 (tried both ATL & PHX) and they had two picks themselves so weren’t interested in adding to that. Plus they obviously loved Giles too.
> Blessing in disguise perhaps. I’ve been talking to Mike about filling out the roster so he can keep our guys fresher throughout the season. I also need some extra pieces to try make some moves with. Wesley Iwundu at #43 is a real steal and Frank Mason at #45 might give Mike another PG option. Kid can really shoot too.

Thought Of The Day:
I wonder how Lavar Ball is going to react with his kid going to Phoenix.

Friday June 23rd – Pick Up The Phone…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Spoke with Russell, Plenty of calls with GMs on trades.

Notes:
> Phones are hot. Plenty of GMs wanted to move around in the draft and it hasn’t stopped since. Wish the phones were ringing for Kanter but that market is COLD. The injury and political stuff has really damaged the flexibility there. I like Enes, happy to keep him around. Just got to find another way now. Safe to say, I’m feeling the heat a little.
> Spoke to Russ today too. He gets it. I am trying to give him ” his” team for 17/18. I think ‘Dipo is going to be the sacrificial lamb in that sense and Russ seems okay with that. It just hasn’t worked as well as we’d hoped. I’d like to send him East.
> Russ knows I need to free up some of the cap and then do my best to add around him. We need more shooting obviously and I think we’d all like Taj Gibson back. Maybe I can get rid of Singler.

Things To Do:
Get solid offers on V.O (PHI, DET, IND, ATL), Call BKN back on Singler. calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Speak with Harden, Get Summer League roster finalised. 

What Happened?
> Interesting call today. Atlanta’s new GM, Travis Schlenk, called to introduce himself properly. Things moved onto Kent Bazemore, interestingly.
> Harden called today too. I actually mentioned Kent’s name and he told me how bummed he was that he couldn’t get him across the line for us last off-season. We started talking more about this Free Agent class and Jim was throwing some names around. He asked me if I saw that Gallo opted out of his deal in Denver and didn’t get it when I laughed. Of course, I knew. I laughed when he brought up Hayward as a possibility too. I mean I’d love him but I’m no miracle worker.
> Jim brought up his extension too. I think he just wants me to know he’s all in on this team. I said we would talk about it when the time was right/legal.

Thought Of The Day:
Wonder if Atlanta would reunite Anderson and Dwight? He would have to be involved in a Bazemore deal.

anderson

Saturday June 24th – Rooks and Books…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Rookie Introductory Press Conference, Looked at cap situation and Exceptions available.

Notes:
> Luke is an impressive kid. Coach K gets those Duke kids very NBA ready, on and off the court. Spoke a little more to him after the formal stuff, he really gets how he can come in and feed off someone like Russ.
> Monte spoke well too. Also understands his possible role behind Russ. I will have to see how things shake out but I can see him taking Semaj’s spot rather quickly. Might mean I add him to any trade we look at doing. Hardly a salary that’s killing our books but could be better for him.
> Speaking of the cap. Unless we make some real drastic moves, we are likely operating as an Over The Cap team again. That leaves us with probably the Mid Level and Bi Annual exceptions. I like Taj for the full ML if he’ll take it. Bi-Annual is around $3mil, so that market will be interesting. A shooter at any position would be nice.

Things To Do:
Get list of FA shooters, look at Orlando travel plans, book flight to NYC.

calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Rookie Presser, Finalise SL roster, Trade R.Anderson.

What Happened?
> Rookies had their intro press conference. Both guys did the full four years at College, so they’ve been around the block a few times. Wesley understands he will get a chance to come in, play some D and hit open shots for us. Frank also understands his possible role as a shooter for this team and backing up Patrick Beverley, while bringing a different dynamic for us when he comes in.
> If the two rookies can impress in Summer League and training camp, it will make our roster crunch really interesting. Chinanu Onuaku might be the other G-League option, love the guy but he needs to get reps in.
> The cheap labor is hardly a bad thing. I am looking to shave money off our cap in any way I can. Our salary sheet prior to the draft doesn’t have a ton of flexibility.

Thought Of The Day:
The Lou Williams contract is great value for what he brings but I might need to think about adding him to a bigger trade. Particularly if it helps get something over the line that saves us bigger bucks, you know?!

Sunday June 25th – Disney World Or Las Vegas?…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Locked in Orlando itinerary (July 1-6), Spent time with Kennard, Trade call with Philadelphia.

Notes:
> Booked Orlando again. Wanted to go to New Zealand with Steven Adams but far too much to do this off-season. 
> Spent a fair bit of time with Luke Kennard. I love his fit with us and explained that to him. He’s going to see a lot of minutes in Orlando and spend quite a bit of time with the ball in his hands. I want to see what he can do as a playmaker for us.
> Monte will go obviously too. I explained to him that there could be a backup PG role there right away this season. It’s his to take. I think Alex Abrines and Josh Huestis might just play one or two. I know what they can do. The new G-League rules mean we can take a bunch of undrafted guys and potentially make them our 16th and 17th guys. That will be the big focus of Summer League this year for everyone I think.
> Philly called about ‘Dipo. Watch this space.

Things To Do:
Finalise paperwork on Isaac Humphries and Peter Jok for SL, Looks for other offers on V.O, Ask ownership for approval to trade him. calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Book SL Vegas stuff (July 7-17), Talk to Qi’s Agent, Trade R.Anderson.

What Happened?
> Looks like Zhou Qi is going to stick around and play. I don’t like his chances of being on the team for this season but happy to be proven wrong. I just don’t think he’s ready. Ideally, I’d like to keep him around as our 16th/17th guy for Rio Grande Vipers but I think his camp would opt to go back to China without a guaranteed NBA spot.
> We will have lots of interesting guys playing though. I spoke to each one of them today and told them where they stood. Iwundu and Mason will likely be on our opening night roster and I just want them to work on their NBA 3 while in Vegas. Troy Williams, Isaiah Taylor and Kyle Wiltjer are all likely fighting for one roster spot. I like them all though and the 16/17 roster spots make things a lot easier on those calls.
> Few GM calls today.

Thought Of The Day:
I need to free up cap space. If I can’t find a taker for Anderson, would James be upset if I moved Gordon? We need to get bigger and more versatile while keeping the shooting.

anderson

Monday June 26th – NBA Awards Night…

Presti
Achieved Today:
NBA Awards Show, Russ wins the MVP.

Notes:
> Just got home from the NBA Awards night in New York. Drake was cringeworthy.
> Was really pleased for Russ. Was cool of him to give me a shout-out in his speech. I’m feeling good about Russ being around for a long time. Truly committed.
> Russ also won style of the year and I’m not sure which award actually pleased him more. Missed out on the triple crown, with Game Winner of the Year going to Tyler Ulis.
> Oladipo won Dunk of the Year. We really needed more of that from him this season. Not sure what it was but we just couldn’t unlock his potential on this team. With other teams calling, it might be best for all parties for a fresh start. We HAVE to get talent in return though.

Things To Do:
Call Colangelo back, Ask about R.Holmes, Get Russ extension stuff together. calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Get Drunk at Awards Night, James Harden for MVP, Trade Ryan Anderson.

What Happened?
> Late night. Wasn’t all that surprised to see James miss out on MVP to Russell, even though I think he thoroughly deserved it. He was huge for us all year. Was nice to see him get some spotlight on the night though, winning Performance of the Year for his 53/16/17 game. Historical season.
> I didn’t win Executive of the Year (Bob Myers, really?!), so it was also nice to see Mike get recognised with his Coach of the Year award. Hope we can go one (or two) better next year. Guess I’ll have to knock FA out of the park to get my award!
> Eric Gordon: Sixth Man of the Year. Very well deserved. Did everything we hoped, when we signed him. Kind of wish Lou got it, just to give me an edge at the trade table but I shouldn’t have a problem with finding takers for him this season.

Thought Of The Day:
Drake is my spirit animal.

Tuesday June 27th – The Morning After…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Spoke to Russ, Got permission from him and owners on ‘Dipo trade.

Notes:
> Called Russ first thing this morning to congratulate him. We didn’t really get a chance to talk properly with everyone around him last night. First thing he mentioned was getting that extension now.
> Peter Jok and Isaac Humphries both signed on for SL after going undrafted. Jok can really shoot the rock, just needs to develop elsewhere and I am excited for Nick Collison to work with Humphries. He may need to be a 4 in the NBA. Domantas Sabonis will play too, I still think he’s an NBA starter soon.
> Had to try bring up Oladipo with him again. Things have been getting pretty serious on that front. Particularly with Philly. We spoke about some options and who might be coming in the other way. Russ seemed excited by the possible additions. I am too.

Things To Do:
Prepare extension for Russ, talk to ownership about Singler dump and FA options, talk to Nick Collison about playing/assistant role.

calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Talk to James about Free Agency/Trades, Ring Mike to congratulate on award, Trade Ryan Anderson.

What Happened?
> James wasn’t too disappointed. I kind of hope it lights a bit more of a fire under him for next season. Especially the way he went out, should be plenty of motivation for him to come back bigger and better. We need him to.
> Harden was far more interested in talking about Free Agency plan. I told him it’s best we don’t talk about specifics just yet, as it’s likely some of his teammates will be moved. He is super tight with Eric, so I get the sense he would prefer others be moved before him.
> A much easier conversation with Mike than James. I told him I want to give him a larger roster to work with for the season and that he has to return the favour by playing them. He’s likely going to have three guys at his position if all goes to plan. Our biggest strength will be our flexibility next season. Dekker and Harrell need more games/minutes.

Thought Of The Day:
Should the D’Antoni motto be changed from “7 Seconds or Less” to “7 Men or Less”.

anderson

Wednesday June 28th – Leave A Message…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Oladipo trade 99% there, Trade Kyle Singer to BKN.

Notes:
> I like Philly’s offer and just made sure I did the due diligence with some other teams who’d shown interest but none were willing to counter. Indiana seemed disappointed but had nothing I wanted and the Detroit package of Harris and Johnson wasn’t all that appealing.
> Secretly I was hoping I could find something that would make the Sixers add Holmes into the deal. Tried when I dealt for Jerami Grant last season too. Either way, I was dealing with them. The trade isn’t going to rock the NBA but it’s a solid move for our team next year and gives us better flexibility going forward.
> That one isn’t official yet but the Singler one is. Brooklyn was happy to take on his contract for our two best 2nds in 2018.

Things To Do:
Finalise Oladipo trade, Call Kyle to say thank you, Organise Front Office meeting for FA plans.

calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Discuss trade with ATL, Call other suitors, Trade Ryan Anderson, Call Mike about Gallo, Call Nene’s Agent.

What Happened?
> Did some Ryan Anderson trade prep today, with both the team and called other teams to see what might be out there. Atlanta’s offer is by far the best. We have to include Lou Williams but I’d prefer that for what we are getting over keeping Lou and taking the inferior offers out there just for Ryan.
> I think we can get Kent Bazemore back to his best in Houston. He will likely come off the bench for us with Eric, which will make us really strong. The idea is to give Mike some really versatile lineups to throw out there.
> Called Mike again to talk about his time in NYC with Gallo. He pointed out Gallo was by far his most efficient from the floor when he was with Mike.

Thought Of The Day:
I made sure I fact-checked Mike. Fake news. It was only 28 games that year Gallo shot 44% from deep but there might be something to that still.

Thursday June 29th  – Changing Places…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Trade Oladipo for Covington and Henderson, Front Office meeting on Cap Space & Free Agents, Called Billy Donovan.

Notes:
> Just completed the trade call on the Oladipo trade. We ended up sending him to the Sixers for Robert Covington and Gerald Henderson. Although it was very much about removing what could be a bad contract for us if Victor didn’t find his role, I really like what we got in return too. We needed more shooting and both guys give us some of that. > Covington is also great contract value and the ideal Roberson replacement from that standpoint. With Henderson non-guaranteed after this season, we really reduce the financial pressure on our cap going forward. We will still make sure we are an ‘Over The Cap’ team for the exceptions available but will be right around the $102mil figure this year and next.
> Spoke with Billy about the deal. He is excited to have two solid role players to build into the lineup. We spoke about how many lineup options he is going to have this season, particularly on the wings around Russ. Doug McDermott isn’t our only shooting option now.

Things To Do:
Call Victor to wish him well, Speak more with Billy, Organise for Robert & Gerald to visit OKC.

calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Trade Ryan Anderson, Speak with Cap Guy on maximum space, Call Nene’s agent, Organise Kent to visit and Call Ryan/Lou.

What Happened?
> I traded Ryan Anderson! I like the deal. We give up two key pieces in Anderson and Williams in return for Kent Bazemore and Mike Dunleavy. Mike will be waived.
> If we can sign Gallo then it is essentially for Bazemore and Gallo, which makes it a no brainer. After waiving Dunleavy’s contract the deal saves our wages bill about $10mil and we should be able to free up a maximum of around $24mil before July 1st. That should be enough to do what we want.
> Gave Ryan and Lou quick calls to thank them for their time in Houston and wish them the best in Atlanta.

Thought Of The Day:
What are the other options if I can’t land Danilo Gallinari? Ilyasova, James Johnson, Ibaka, Patterson, D-Mo? Yikes, better get Gallo. 

anderson

Friday June 30th  – A Little Prep Work…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Spoke to Mark Bartelstein, Checked on Russ’ new contract paperwork, Research into Roberson leaving.

Notes:
> Called Taj’s agent this morning. Just a friendly chat, didn’t want to break any rules. Quietly confident we can bring him back for the Mid-Level Exception. May have to give an extra year than I’d like to balance out the lower cash. I’d guess he could get offers more in the $12 million range elsewhere.
> Russ rang. Again. Can’t fault his commitment to the team. His extension might be the first order of business again for us and then some other names around him.
> Roberson is gone. Brooklyn might go with another huge offer sheet. If he gets an early offer, there won’t be a lot we can do. Or want to, for that matter. A real shame because I like ‘Dre but we have cheaper options at his position now and a real premium on shooting. If I took a guess right now, I’d say Minnesota or Sacramento.

Things To Do:
Finalise Plan B’s for Taj, Print list of $3mil & under targets, Book LA Flight.calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Speak with Michael Tellem, Book LA flight, GM calls, Call Nene’s Agent.

What Happened?
> Phone was ringing off the hook today. Some fruitful convos and some were just agents trying to build the competition for their players.
> Rang the agent for plans with Danilo. He was a little cagey and I get the feeling he is currently sifting through what his client’s real price range could be. He knows we are serious about Gallo though and I think there is mutual interest there. Danilo enjoyed his time with Mike in NYC.
> Bill Duffy is very keen for Nene to come back to Houston. Made it clear we will give him a longer deal this time around. I just need him to be patient and trust we will give him whatever it is we have left. A duo with him and Capela gives us great balance and flexibility.

Thought Of The Day:
Could I have made a serious play for Hayward? Random names that came up today: Young, Tucker, Korver, Redick, Mills and Speights. We are pretty locked in on what we are doing though.

Saturday July 1st – It’s Moving Day…

Presti
Achieved Today:
Flew to LA, Russ Extension agreed, Taj Gibson signed, Mo Speights signed.

Notes:
> I’ve literally been awake for 24 hours. The fact everyone starts at midnight makes it a LONNNNG day. Really pleased we could get Taj done right away for the Mid Level. Had to give him three guaranteed years to get it over the line but overall it’s a good deal for us.
> Russ’ extension is agreed too. We won’t announce it until after the moratorium. We have the reigning MVP under contract until possibly 2022 (gave him the last year Player Option), that’s pretty cool.
> That’s business basically done for us. I put the feelers out for solid veterans (who can shoot) and wound up where I didn’t expect, Mo Buckets. He is keen to come across for two years and we have the bi-annual still to use. Gives me greater flexibility to shed the Kanter contract too.

Things To Do:
Talk to PR team about Russ announcement, Fly to Orlando, Call Andre to wish him the best in Minnesota, Sign Collison. calendar-image-png-3Morey
Today’s Checklist:
Sign Danilo Gallinari, Sign Nene, Try extend Harden.

What Happened?
> We got our big fish! Met with Danilo and his agent the first minute we were allowed to and got the commitment. I knew if we didn’t walk out with his word then he’d likely get swept up elsewhere. Not going to lie, to hear Michael call Pat Riley and cancel their planned meeting was satisfying.
> Ended up being four years and $64mil, with a player option. Big commitment but it’s what we set out to do. That will leave us with about $8mil and as promised, Nene got the lot.  Two years/$16mil.
> That gives us basically 17 guys. Bobby Brown will come back as our 15th guy. Going to be tough selling Isaiah and Troy on a start in the G-League and we may lose one of them to a better offer. We got better and deeper though, and that was the plan.

Thought Of The Day:
Was prepared to give Nene a Player Option if I had to but managed to sneak a Team option instead. Classic Morey move. (God) I’m good.

anderson


The General Manager position is the most uncomfortable seat you can sit on in the NBA. The job is 24/7-365 and ultimately you have very little control after moves are made. The coverage of the role and every move made within it, is continuing to grow too. While Presti and Morey should be considered two of the safer GM’s in basketball today (rightly so), the NBA world does have a propensity to move on very quickly without notice.

This 10 day period could be crucial to the fate of two franchises in their current form. Obviously this is a fictional look at how each GM might attack this important 10 day stretch in an ideal world. The final rosters created would be improvements on their 16/17 counterparts, mainly attacking the lessons learned from the previous season.

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 6.43.25 am

Houston need to add to their overall quality around Harden for next season. It may be a gamble taking on Bazemore but he certainly fits the Morey mould. If they can make a trade to fill up enough space for a big time free agent, then the gamble is worth it. Anderson is the likely one to go and Nene is a must re-sign player.

This new and improved Houston roster is deep, with a number of options going forward and versatile lineups for D’Antoni to work with. Some may question the Galinari/Trevor Ariza forward combo but if you are going to play the D’Antoni way then you may as well go all the way.

As for the Thunder, they are even more limited in their flexibility. However, Oladipo should be the one to go (assuming Kanter can’t be moved) and they could do a lot worse than bringing in two handy role players. After all, this team is going to be Russ & the role players for the foreseeable future, so you need guys who are paid like role players.

With that in mind, Roberson should 100% be left to walk in favour of more reliable shooting. This Thunder team has plenty of options on the wing and if Kennard can find a role, possibly as the 2nd playmaker this team needs, it may also have some flexibility with future trades.

These mock 2017/18 rosters would be better placed to compete next season than their current incarnations. They are built around their stars better, improve on past weaknesses and have a ton of flexibility to fit the modern NBA.

OKC and Houston could do a lot worse than have rosters similar to this in under a month’s time.


Resources used: basketballreference, sportsreference, tankathon & realgm
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