Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

June 25, 2012

Presti: Jackson, Van Gundy rumors are 'rubbish'

OKLAHOMA CITY — General manager Sam Presti dismissed reports that 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson or former New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy could be the next coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, saying an extension with Scott Brooks is a top priority.

"To me, it's rubbish,'' Presti said Sunday when asked about an ESPN report that Jackson and Van Gundy were being considered as options if Brooks couldn't be re-signed.

Brooks led Oklahoma City to the NBA Finals last season, but his current contract runs out at the end of the month. He has overseen a steady development since taking over the Thunder early in the 2008-09 season.

After winning 23 games that first season, Brooks took Oklahoma City to the playoffs in 2010, then to the Western Conference finals in 2011 before this season's five-game loss to the Miami Heat in the finals.

Jackson is retired but has left the door open to returning in the right circumstances. Van Gundy is now a commentator for ESPN and ABC.

"Scotty is an integral part of our organization and critical to our success,'' Presti said. "We value him greatly and we're looking forward to having those (contract) conversations, as he said, in the coming days.

"He's been integral to our success. We wouldn't be the situation that we're in without him and his commitment to our organization and our players.''

While Presti put Brooks' contract negotiations at the top of his list, it's an expansive list of issues to tackle after coming within three wins of a championship.

Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, NBA blocks leader Serge Ibaka and backup point guard Eric Maynor are eligible for contract extensions this July, although all are already signed for next season. Veteran contributors Derek Fisher and Nazr Mohammed are set to become unrestricted free agents, along with reserve Royal Ivey.

That's a lot of pieces to try and fit into a financial puzzle that already includes the high-dollar, long-term contracts of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

"We've got to be able to build a team that can win year in and year out, and those are the challenges that have to be balanced,'' Presti said. "We love the group we have and we're going to work tirelessly to see if we can make it work here but we understand that there are some inherent challenges and that's part of the new (collective bargaining) system.''

Presti wouldn't say if the franchise was open to exceeding the salary cap and paying the league's luxury tax in order to keep the roster together.

"What I can tell you is that we're going to do everything we can to make it work. We're going to put everything toward it,'' Presti said.

Each of the players facing contract decisions expressed an interest in returning to the Thunder. A day earlier, Maynor openly discussed the potential that the players would need to "sacrifice'' to make it work. Harden said he loved playing for Oklahoma City and suggested the possibility of a dynasty being built by the Thunder.

"Those guys obviously care a lot about the organization, they care a lot about playing here and, I think, very much about winning. But at the end of the day, those are personal decisions,'' Presti said.

"We're not ones to judge anyone in those respects. We're going to do what we can to try to make it work for them and to make it work for us.''

Since relocating from Seattle in 2008, the Thunder have largely been able to grow with young talent playing on less expensive rookie contracts. As the team has grown older and more successful, the cost of doing business has grown.

"The challenges of that, quite frankly, are the challenges you have when you're a good team,'' Presti said, "and the decisions that you have to make, especially under a new system, as we try to learn that system and understand it and ultimately make some decisions about what we feel like is the best way to build a team in Oklahoma City that's capable of competing year in and year out and giving ourselves a chance to win both in the in short and long term.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0016web.jpg District Champions!

    District champions ... Enough said!
    Claremore freshman forward Olivia Maulsby converted a game-winning header with 1:22 remaining to lead the No. 4-ranked Lady Zebras past No. 5 Skiatook, 2-1 Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference play at Lantow Field.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • DSC_0433web.jpg SOCCER: Bulldogs spoil ‘Senior Night’ for Zebras

    Claremore senior goalkeeper Sam Lillie made the most of his first and last varsity start Tuesday night against Skiatook on Senior Night at Lantow Field.
    For 40 minutes, Lillie was flawless in the goal, allowing only one goal and making several tenacious stops against the fiery Bulldogs.
    The second-half, however, told a different story as No. 3 Skiatook scored four goals and enjoyed a 5-0 win over the No. 15 Zebras.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Berryhill’s White strikes out 17, tosses no-hitter over No. 1 Verdigris

    Top-ranked Class 3A Verdigris got White-washed by 4A No.3 Berryhill on Tuesday night.
    In a battle of 2013 state champions, Chiefs’ ace Nick White — a future Oklahoma State pitcher —  fired a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts, igniting a 5-0 victory over the Cardinals.

    April 23, 2014

  • Stilwell’s Lea signs with RSU men's basketball

    Rogers State University men's basketball head coach Justin Barkley announced the addition of standout center Matt Lea for the 2014-15 season.

    April 23, 2014

  • HANSLOVANweb.jpg SOCCER: No. 2 Lady Cards roll past Oologah

    Verdigris senior forward Caitlyn Hanslovan tallied another ‘hat trick’ in her illustrious Lady Cardinals soccer career Tuesday night at Oologah.
    The three goals by Hanslovan soared the second-ranked Lady Cardinals past Oologah, 5-0 in non-conference play at Mustangs Stadium.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • 5 Claremore HS tennis players earn all-conference

    The Claremore High School boys and girls varsity tennis programs had five players receive Metro Lakes all-conference recognition.

    April 23, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: Horner's RBI-single lifts No. 15 Tulsa past OSU, 1-0

    Catherine Horner's RBI single in the sixth inning and Aimee Creger's three-hit shutout gave No. 15 University of Tulsa (42-5) a 1-0 win over Oklahoma State (24-21) at Cowgirl Stadium on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • ORU's Romano named to NCBWA Stopper of the Year watch list

    Oral Roberts University junior reliever Jordan Romano has been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year mid-season watch list, the organization announced on Wednesday.

    April 24, 2014

  • SOFTBALL: OU's Stevens tosses one-hitter past North Texas

    Sophomore Kelsey Stevens was just three outs away from her first no-hitter as a Sooner, but a one-hitter was still a fine consolation prize as No. 17/12 Oklahoma shut out North Texas, 3-0, on Wednesday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • OSU women's basketball adds JUCO duo

    Oklahoma State's women's basketball team has signed a pair of junior college players it was announced today by Cowgirl head coach Jim Littell.

    Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College's Roddricka Patton and Rylie Swanson, a product of Northern Oklahoma College-Enid, both signed National Letters of Intent and will join the OSU program for the upcoming season.

    April 24, 2014

AP Video