The OKC Thunder just finished an abysmal season, and there could be many more to come.
Still, team GM Sam Presti has high hopes for the future.
Not long ago, the team was competing for Championships with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in the early 2010s. Eventually, they paired Westbrook with Paul George.
It stands to reason that Presti could work his magic again and build a truly elite contending team.
Looking back, however, he knows more than anyone that it's going to be hard to top what was previously built.
In his exit interview on Monday, the front-office leader spoke candidly about the "big three" era and very highly about his former players.
Those are big words from Presti, and it's clear that he appreciates his guys. It's a real shame that they never stayed together.
After making the Finals in 2012, the team traded James Harden to the Rockets, which is noted as one of Presti's biggest mistakes. Years later, Durant would leave and burn many bridges on his way out.
After the fact, he made sure to tell the world how he really felt about those within the organization:
"I eventually wanted to come back to that city and be a part of that community and organization, but I don’t trust nobody there," said Durant. "That sh*t must have been fake, what they was doing. The organization, the GM, I ain’t talked to none of those people since I left. Such a venomous, toxic feeling when I walked into that arena. The organization, the trainers, and equipment managers, those dudes are pissed at me? Ain’t talking to me? I’m like, ‘Yo, this is where we going with this? Because I left a tram to go play with another team?"
Russell Westbrook was the last man standing, but even he left in the end.
Today, that "big three" team stands as one of the biggest "what if" scenarios in NBA history. As great as Presti speaks about them now, he was unable to keep them all together when it really mattered.
Hopefully, someday soon, they will find a similarly talented core to build around.