그동안 공석으로 있던 GM 자리는 결국 스퍼스 출신의 샘 프레스티에게 돌아갔다. 어떤 인물인지 잘 모르겠지만 NBA에서 가장 훌륭한 프랜차이즈중에 하나인 스퍼스의 핵심인물이라는 점과 입사 7년만에 인턴에서 어시스턴트 제너럴 매니저까지 진급한 것을 보면 능력있는 인물인 것 같다.
좋은 GM이 어떻게 팀을 바꿀 수 있는지는 올해 토론토를 보면 알 수 있다. 샘 프레스티가 소닉스에 새 바람을 불어넣어주길 바래본다.
Sonics Take Step Forward by Hiring Presti
Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM | June 7, 2007
Sam Presti made clear during his introduction to the Seattle media on Thursday that he is a big believer in process. Presti views the effort to build a championship team in Seattle as, in his words, a "methodical" one made up of small steps. He would never say it, but the men who hired him did: Naming Sam Presti GM Thursday was a major step forward for the Sonics.
"It’s an important day, an exciting day for all of us here at the Sonics," said Professional Basketball Club, LLC Chairman Clayton Bennett. "After a thorough process, where (PBC Vice Chairman) Lenny (Wilkens) and I had the ability to cultivate a broad group of candidates for consideration for GM, we found the right person."
Bennett's search for a new general manager, with Wilkens playing a key role, found him looking for someone he described as "on the way up." Presti, 30, was the right candidate in that regard after a rapid rise through the San Antonio Spurs organization that saw him go from intern to vice president and assistant GM in just seven years.
That the Spurs have been the NBA's successful franchise in that time, winning two championships and playing for a third in the NBA Finals starting tonight, was not lost on Bennett, once a member of the San Antonio ownership group. Bennett's view that the Spurs are "the premier franchise in our business" made Presti a part of the search, but it was Presti's impressive resume and vision for the Sonics that earned him the job.
"He got the job because of who he is, how he does things and what he stands for," explained Bennett. "He is thoughtful, he is methodical, he is measured, he is very bright and he is very likeable. He has a value system and a demeanor very much in line with our ownership group and I believe that he has the skill set and perspective, which will fit the challenge of building this organization."
Presti, who is joining the Sonics organization immediately, takes over as the Sonics are nearing one of the most important off-seasons in franchise history. The Sonics still must select a new head coach, hold the No. 2 overall pick in the June 28 NBA Draft and must try to re-sign forward Rashard Lewis, an unrestricted free agent. Coming off of a 31-51 season that was their worst in more than two decades, the Sonics have the immediate opportunity to return to contention.
"What we have in front of us here in Seattle is a challenge," said Presti. "I am invigorated and looking forward to attacking this, rolling up our sleeves and getting after it, every day. It’s my hope that we will work at it, define a process and establish and redefine an identity for Sonics basketball that will be synonymous with professionalism, teamwork, commitment and community."
In Presti's vision, modeled after what he was a part of in San Antonio, the concepts of culture and identity are critical to the Sonics.
"What we’re trying to do here is establish a culture," he said. "It takes precedence, it takes persistence and over time it’s my belief that the decisions we make will ultimately dictate where we’re going to be as an organization. We want resilient players. We want competitors, we want professionals. We want players that want to be a part of something bigger than themselves and guys who, at the end of the day, want to get better. That will be our focus."
Presti took time out to thank the people he worked with in San Antonio, notably Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich, GM R.C. Buford and Chairman and CEO Peter Holt. That the San Antonio system has heavily influenced him is clear. However, Presti dismissed the notion that the goal for the Sonics will be to build "San Antonio West."
"That’s San Antonio," Presti said. "That’s a special situation with some special, special talents, we all know that. That’s not what we’re trying to re-create here. My focus is on Seattle. My focus is on where we’re going."
The next step for Presti is to find out more about the Sonics. He repeatedly stressed coming in with an open mind and his reluctance to make sweeping statements before getting a sense of what kind of situation he has entered. Presti also made engaging with the Sonics & Storm business staff a priority, meeting with them Thursday morning prior to the press conference.
The search for a new coach will soon take priority. Asked how long that search would take, Presti was unwilling to name a date, saying, "how long it takes to get the right person."
Who will be that right person?
"Communication, I think, is No. 1," said Presti. "We need to find somebody that can communicate vision and is also aligned with organizational philosophies. I’m confident that as we move through the process, we’ll identify and target and secure the right person for the job."
With a busy off-season on tap, there are many important steps left ahead for the Sonics. The hiring of Presti, however, has put them on a path that - one day at a time - promises improvement and sustainable success.
"My philosophy is really grounded in taking a methodical approach to getting better," said Presti. "That’s got to be the focus of the organization. Each day we walk out of the gym, out of the offices, out of the arena, we have to get a little better each day. Over time; it’s not going to happen with one grand-slam solution or defining event. It’s going to happen with inches, it’s going to happen in incrementals, it’s going to happen through a commitment to doing things the right way. I’m 100 percent confident that Clay Bennett and the ownership group he leads is committed to doing that."