Did Thunder want to break up team? Sam Presti says “no.”
“We showed [Leonard] everybody else and he didn’t want to hear it. He just stayed on Paul George, so after the meeting we sat down and I said, ‘We got to get Paul George. I don’t know how we are going to do it, but we have to do it.’ We did know that Oklahoma City wanted to break their team up.”
The Washington Post would have given that statement four Pinocchios.
For one thing, Kawhi Leonard and George were talking before the start of free agency about teaming up.
Secondly, Sam Presti — the Thunder’s GM — disputes the idea OKC wanted to break up its team, as he told Royce Young of ESPN.
At this point we have a pretty good idea what actually happened:
Leonard reached out to George before the start of free agency, and in turn George — or really, his agent — sat down with Presti and said George wanted to be traded to the Clippers. Los Angeles knew they needed to get George to land Leonard (most likely) and started working on the deal. George was upfront with the Thunder, who may not have wanted to break up their team but ultimately had no choice (there were rumors who they really wanted to move was Westbrook). The Thunder got a huge haul from the Clippers, so it worked.
It’s all spin. Presti cannot say “we wanted to break this team up one year after we celebrated putting it together” so whether he did or not he has to say they wanted to keep it together. The Clippers have to avoid even the appearance of tampering (not to say they did, but they can’t have it look like they did. In the end, it’s all the kind of stuff Adam Silver would love to eliminate. Good luck with that.