Basketball

Thunder G.M. Sam Presti has no regrets drafting Chet Holmgren

When Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti was asked if he had any regrets drafting Chet Holmgren, the NBA executive gave the best response he could.

“If you asked me before the lottery… you could pick between one or you could pick eight, or the other option is you could have Chet Holmgren, but you have to wait a year to get him — I would not let you finish the sentence,” explains Presti.

GM Sam Presti on Chet Holmgren:

“If you asked me before the lottery… you could pick between one or you could pick eight, or, the other option is you could have Chet Holmgren, but you have to wait a year to get him — I would not let you finish the sentence.”

— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) August 25, 2022

To explain his comment, Presti would rather wait a season to draft a player like Holmgren rather than take his chances on other top draft prospects.

Regardless of injuries, the Thunder G.M. would take a talented star over a dime-a-dozen role player any day of the week. Die-hard fans would agree with him. Look at Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Thunder G.M. Sam Presti has no regrets drafting Chet Holmgren

Of course, Presti’s statement comes one day after it was revealed that Holmgren would miss the entire 2022-23 season. He suffered a Lisfranc injury to his right foot while guarding LeBron James during the CrawsOver Pro-Am League event in Seattle.

In five games played with the Thunder in the NBA 2K23 Summer League, Holmgren averaged 14 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

Last month, Holmgren signed a four-year, rookie-scale contract with the team. He will make $9,891,240 in the 2022-23 season. Then, Holmgren will earn $10,386,000 in the 2023-24 season.

The center has a 2024-25 team option worth $10,880,640 and another team option set at $13,731,368 in the 2025-26 season.

“Something positive will come from this as long as we take it in and understand that. We have to have humility and we have to have gratitude as we deal with the setback.”

— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) August 25, 2022

On Thursday, Presti released this statement on Holmgren’s injury: “Certainly, we are disappointed for Chet, especially given the excitement he had about getting on the floor with his teammates this season.”

“We know Chet has a long career ahead of him within our organization and the Oklahoma City community,” continued Presti. “One of the things that most impressed us during the process of selecting Chet was his determination and focus.”

“We expect that same tenacity will carry him through this period of time as we work together and support him during his rehabilitation.”

Can Oklahoma City return to the playoffs with Holmgren?

Even casual fans could argue that had the front office kept Westbrook, Durant and James Harden together under then head coach Scott Brooks, the Thunder would have won their first NBA championship.

In the 2011-12 season, the Thunder lost in five games of the 2012 NBA Finals against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Harden won NBA Sixth Man of the Year that season. And Durant won the 2012 All-Star Game MVP.

It took a superteam from the Eastern Conference — with LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — to defeat that championship-caliber team in 2012. Now, that chapter is closed.

Can the Thunder return to the NBA Finals in the future with Holmgren? They would first have to make a playoff appearance. Oklahoma City has not qualified for the postseason since the 2019-20 season.

In 2019, they lost in seven games against the Houston Rockets in their first-round playoff series.

Since 2020, under head coach Mark Daigneault, the Thunder have gone 46-108 (.299). Though, in all fairness, the team is still rebuilding. Without Holmgren, this is an undesirable situation for Daigneault, needless to say.

It could be his last season coaching the team. Minus the No. 2 overall pick, this season is already setting him up for failure. Above-average coaches and teams can overcome injuries. So, this will be Daigneault’s ultimate test.

Unlike the Kings, at least the Thunder aren’t in a 16-year playoff drought.

More news stories pertaining to Sam Presti and Chet Holmgren are on the main page.

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