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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Thunder GM Presti Talks Offseason, Westbrook And Player Development

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Thunder General Manager Sam Presti addressed the media Wednesday afternoon, discussing the Thunder's offseason moves, player updates and expectations for the 2013-14 season.

On building off last season's success:

"We're excited about this season. We're excited about the opportunity to build on the success of last season and I think we have an opportunity to do that. In terms of the team itself, we're excited about the fact that we have a nice mix of players. We have some veterans on this team that are going to help us, some young, emerging players – younger players that we hope will continue to grow and contribute over time. We have a very unique blend of pre-prime players that have an inordinate and unique amount of experience in the postseason."

On the plusses of a team that's been together a while:

"One of the things that we really enjoy the most about this team is the fact that they've been together for a while. Obviously they've enjoyed a lot of high performance, a lot of winning, but they've also gone through some valleys as well and had to deal with some adversities together. We really value the fact that a lot of these guys share the same scars. So continuity, experience, and the fact that these guys have been together for a while are things that have us excited for this year."

On when Russell Westbrook is expected to return:

"It's very hard for me to say a specific date and I wouldn't do that. I think that would be not only unfair but also irresponsible for us. We're very hesitant to give a specific timetable because when you're dealing with injuries and recovery times, everybody's different."

On how Westbrook's rehab is going:

"He's on pace to this point in the recovery process, but we're not going to put a specific timetable on his return – simply because it's too big a decision. His health is most important, not just for this season but for many years to come. And he's done an excellent job in showing unbelievable discipline and rigor through the process. We expect him to come back at full strength, but, he's gotta finish the rest of the benchmarks. And once he does, it will be a medical decision, he'll be cleared for unrestricted activity and we'll be happy to have him back on the floor."

On the challenges that await Westbrook upon return:

"Once he gets back on the court, there's going to be a period of adjustment. Anytime someone goes through a rehabilitation process, it's not just a physical thing but it's a skill thing, so there will be some time for him to adjust. The team understands that, the organization understands that, I think Russell understands that. When you're dealing with rehabilitation, it's a day-by-day thing because you're constantly retraining the body to do things it has not done for a while. So there will be some good days, probably some setbacks as well, but, he'll be able to do a lot more on the floor early on, and once he's meeting those thresholds and benchmarks, that load will increase."

On the expectations for Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb:

"I think Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb have really pushed the standards higher for some of the younger players that'll follow them in our organization in the future. They've been incredibly diligent; the time they've put in and the quality of the work has been exceptional. I don't think it's appropriate to necessarily make an assumption on who's gonna play what role or how much someone will be relied upon because it's discounting the impact of the other players on the roster."

On the importance of Kendrick Perkins:

"Obviously he has high standards for himself – he expressed those at the end of last season. He makes up part of that continuity that's been around for quite some time that's been a part of some of the best teams that we've had here."

On expectations for Perkins this season:

"We expect him to be an elite post defender and we expect him to impact the play of some of the top-tier centers in the league, especially those in the Western Conference. We expect him to fill the role that he's given."

On potentially wearing uniforms with sleeves (such as the Warriors):

"When it comes to the sleeves, the league has input on that. There's a chance that we may end up wearing sleeves during the year. When? I can't tell you."

On whether the navy alternate uniforms will be returning:

"We'll continue to do that on selected nights."

On the roles of rookies Steven Adams and Andre Roberson:

"The development of players is really essential to our ability to sustain a high-level team for a period of years. It's too early to designate how Steven and Andre will be utilized. Scott (Brooks) has to make decisions about the roles of the players and the positions they're put in and things of that nature, but we feel really good about the summers that both those guys had. They're workers, they understand what it means to play here, I think they both have a really good feel for who they are as players and they also understand they have a lot of work to do. But when we drafted them, there were no secrets about that but we're excited that both of them are in the program."

On high overall expectations:

"We've got a lot of confidence in this particular group. I've got an incredible amount of confidence in our players, the processes and the mentality that has been in place here for five years, (but) we've got to do the work. We're not entitled to anything."

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