Presti and Thunder ready to evolve after Durant departure
The Oklahoma City Thunder know Kevin Durant is irreplaceable but they also know life goes on in the NBA as they attempt to rebuild.
Speculation surrounding Durant's future was put to an end on Monday, with the 2014 MVP opting to join the Golden State Warriors, who were pushed to a game seven by the Thunder in the Western Conference finals.
Durant played nine seasons for the Thunder and eight in Oklahoma City following the relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics.
The 27-year-old - who guided the Thunder to the 2012 NBA Finals - made 641 appearances for the franchise, scoring 17,566 points (27.4 per game) after being taken with the second pick in the 2007 draft, winning the NBA scoring champion on four occasions as well as earning seven All-Star selections.
"Kevin has earned the right to make a decision that's best for him," Presti told reporters in a news conference.
"We have to be truly grateful for what he represented for the Thunder and also for the city and the community. He gave back with his time. He gave back with his dollars. And we need to recognise that. We need to honour that."
Durant's departure hurts a lot and while obviously disappointed, general manager Sam Presti knows the show must go on.
And while it also goes on without Serge Ibaka, coach Billy Donovan and Co. look ahead to a future with recruits Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rookie Domantas Sabonis.
"I would say that Billy -- and this is one of the reasons why I think Billy is so good -- Billy is able to work with and create options on the floor based on who he has to work with. He's really, really masterful at that," Presti said.
"If I know him, which I do, he's probably already thinking and has already thought about style of play, things that we have to do differently. As I said before, you don't replace Kevin Durant. He had the ball in his hands half the quarter probably. And that's going to have to be an adjustment.
"If we were to try to Band-Aid or quick fix or impulsively try to recreate a team, I think that would probably lead us in a direction we'd be disappointed in.
"So we have to take our time to understand where we are personnel-wise, style of play wise, and I have total confidence in Billy and our coaching staff to look at where we are and continue to try to evolve the identity of the team."