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Sam Presti admits he ‘missed’ on Gordon Hayward trade

Sam Presti Gordon Hayward
Sam Presti was very candid Tuesday regarding the Gordon Hayward trade. (Credit: NATHAN J. FISH/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Sam Presti admits he ‘missed’ on Gordon Hayward trade

Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti–regarded as one of the best in the sport–took a swing ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline by acquiring Charlotte Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, adding a veteran with a scoring punch for pennies on the dollar.

Though the move didn’t go as hoped. Hayward, 34, played in only 26 games, averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds across 17.2 points without scoring a single point in 46 postseason minutes, attempting just three shot attempts.

Presti opened up about the move Tuesday to the media, though his candid response may surprise you.

“I missed on that,” he said. “That’s on me, but I’m learning. I’m trying to learn this team. I’m trying to learn the pace of the team a little bit … our team the last 20 games was significantly different than the first 20 games. These are the same players, but significantly different.

“Every time somebody changes or develops or stumble onto something, it changes the rest of the team and how they can perform. So I think it’s pretty nuanced and texturized, 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.”

Salute to Presti for admitting his mistake–being accountable–and being candid about learning from the process. Hindsight’s always 20-20, but you don’t often hear executives–including one who’s been the team’s general manager for 17 seasons (!) like Presti has–admit when mistakes are made.

Being a general manager is one of the hardest jobs in sports. It’s so much more complex than plugging players into a trade machine to do whatever you want or acquiring or waiving whatever players you want. It’s so much more than manipulating the cap in your exact favor or having everything break your way in the draft every year.

You’re dealing with human beings. Nobody’s perfect, including Presti. In his case, he’s competing with 29 other general managers and organizations full of talent who have the same end goal who are trying to do the exact same thing as him.

Some teams–like Oklahoma City–have more means to achieve said goal than another–whatever that may be–but you have to do your best to maximize your talent in your surroundings, take calculated risks when the time’s right and minimize regret, among other things.

He missed with the Hayward trade. It’s impossible to bat 1.000. There’s no guarantee the Thunder are the No. 1 seed again, but they were one of the youngest teams in basketball with multiple (budding) stars in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren. I wouldn’t be worried about their short- or long-term prospects, but only one team can win a title at the end of the day.

This season was a learning experience for everyone in Oklahoma City, including Presti.


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