Sam Presti is a genius. The former San Antonio executive turned Oklahoma City Thunder GM runs circles around everyone come draft time. That goes for other front offices as well as media, players and fans. Especially with Kevin Pritchard now out of the league, Presti may simultaneously be the best and most fun to watch GM in the league.
Everyone knows he needed size. Instead, he first went after backcourt players with great value and then spun them into bigs, who will be solid and contribute on what is probably my favorite team to watch going forward (at least before free agency shakes out). Meanwhile, Cole Aldrich is left on stage forced to compare playing with Sherron Collins to playing with Chris Paul, despite the fact that he’ll likely never play with either again. Once the trade is finalized, Aldrich will be headed to Oklahoma City with German center Tibor Pleiss and defensively oriented big man Ryan Reid to join Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green and B.J. Mullens to form a young and athletic frontcourt that the team hopes will someday rival its backcourt and wing players like Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Eric Maynor and Thabo Sefolosha.
Cole Aldrich joined Paul Allen on KFAN in Minneapolis to talk about the pre-draft process, where he went in the draft, Oklahoma City, Sherron Collins, Ekpe Udoh and making bank.
On if he is surprised that he went 11th:
“The one thing that not everybody understands besides maybe a few select people that go through the process is that I never worried about the number. Whether it was 11 or 5 or 2, whatever the number was, it didn’t matter to me. I wanted to make sure that I found the right fit for me as a player. The opportunity is littler if you get to a team that you don’t like or your not a fit into because that second contract will come and you won’t have that experience to grow and basically sell a pitch to a team… Looking at it before the draft lottery happened itself, you just look at the statistics of where the teams would fall statistically. I thought that Wizards or 76ers would have been a good fit for me. That’s the fun of the draft. You never know. Things occur that you would never expect. How would you expect to have the sixth and seventh picks picking one and two.”
On what he thinks about playing Oklahoma City:
“You really look at it. They don’t have any other professional teams in that area. In kind of reminds me of KU because, in Kansas City 45 minutes away we have the Chiefs and the Royals, but they don’t have a professional basketball team. In Oklahoma City that’s all there is. There is only that.”
On if he has talked to any NBA players about the rigors of the season:
“A little bit. The one thing that I’ve kind of learned of the process so far of ending school and coming to the draft is, when you start working out for teams. I worked out for seven different teams with eight workouts. It’s one of those things where I kind of had two long strings of basically what I would call road games when I went out and worked out for teams. I left two weeks ago on Tuesday and I went to Houston, New Orleans, Detroit and Toronto. I had three workouts in four days or three workouts in five days. I kind of correlated that to being on the road. Like you said, playing four games in five nights and both of those are back-to-backs. You just got to make sure you take care of your body right, eat right and get your rest.”
On guys he went up against in the pre-draft workouts:
“The one player that I personally really got to like and what not over the course and as a Big 12 guy before is Ekpe Udoh. We were kind of talking in the break about him but he got the sixth pick to Golden State. I think he’s going to be a good fit there at Golden State with them. It’s just fun to go against those guys. I was always a guy who didn’t care who I worked out with. I always wanted to go against the best of the best because, sooner or later, you are going to have to play them, so why not make it sooner rather than later and just kind of make a friendship out of it and a good rivalry between guys.”
On if he was surprised that Sherron Collins was not drafted:
“I was. I played with Sherron at KU for three years. He’s just a hard-nosed point guard that knows how to win. You look at a point guard and you break him down, no matter what level you are at, you are based on do you win. Do you win games? That’s what it is. Scoring, assists all that are great things, but can the guy get the job done and win us a game? And he can, so that’s what really surprised me… I heard just the other day that he’s going to workout with the Bobcats just a little bit. I think that’s going to be great for him. I think Sherron’s best when people doubt him.“
On if he has made any big purchases yet:
“The funny thing is, nobody realizes, I’m still broke. I don’t get paid until November… I’ll save a lot of it. The biggest thing you have to do is save on your first contract. You got to go into the mindset that it’s your first and only contract until you get a second one. There’s a possiblity that we might have lockout next year so that really puts another damper on that. You got to make sure you are safe with your money and smart with it.”
And on conference realignment as it relates to the Big 12 (now with ten teams):
“Hopefully they give us the football revenues of the Big Ten Network.”