OKLAHOMA CITY —
Basketball without borders: Oklahoma City will open its preseason schedule on Oct. 5 with an eight-game overseas trip starting in Istanbul where the Thunder will face the Turkish team Fenerbache Ulker.
Presti said it’s a good chance to grow the franchise abroad.
“We’re five years in, but you don’t build the finality of an identity for a franchise in five years. That being said, I do think there are some pillars in place. So, when you do go overseas, people follow the team. I think we’re very fortunate we have some very identifiable players. We’ve been very fortunate to play in some high profile games and play deep into the season and that always helps over there,” he said.
“I think the other thing is having international players. We’ve really embraced international players. We see no bounds to basketball. International or domestic, it’s all basketball. I think we’re getting to that point in time where there’s no delineation and I think that’s a good thing.”
Acknowledging that the situation in Syria does raise fair questions about playing in neighboring Turkey, Presti said the NBA is really in charge of the operation and he doesn’t anticipate there being any issues.
With the exception of Westbrook, Presti said he expects the whole team to make the trip.
“I would anticipate that (everyone will play). Years ago I might have said that and someone sprain their ankle playing pick up or something like that. So, if you ask me today, the answer is ‘yes,’ but hopefully that doesn’t change.”
Thunder U: Oklahoma City’s model of in-house development for young players has yielded strong results from prospects, but Presti doesn’t think it stops there.
“Development is an ongoing process for every player. It’s not just younger players. I don’t think development is something that is age-based. We think we have a responsibility to try and improve every player that we have.”
He credited coach Scott Brooks and the staff with helping institute that culture.
“I think it’s a combination of things, but at the end of the day, the players have to do the work and we’re fortunate to have some workers.”
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