OKC Thunder: Draft only the beginning of Oklahoma City's offseason

Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan shouts instructions during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Oregon on April 14. Donovan is working "methodically" to fill assistant coaching vacancies, Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

Early Friday morning, between midnight and 1 a.m. Thursday night, following the NBA draft, Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti made mention of several things.

• The offseasons of both Paul George and Andre Roberson — George on the mend following two shoulder surgeries that should make him fully well for the 2019-20 season and Roberson still coming back from a leg injury (and several corrective procedures) suffered more than a season ago — are going very well.

Still, no additional update is likely before training camp rolls around.

• Thunder head coach Billy Donovan will replenish his coaching staff at his own pace and the process of looking into possibilities is ongoing.

“He’s being really methodical,” Presti said.

• Yes, an inexpensive team, by NBA standards, can compete for a championship, Presti asserted. However, he said, it’s at what point core players on the roster are at in their careers that’s the variable.

“You know, once players start getting into a certain tier, a certain age, what they command, it’s going to be an expensive proposition,” he said.

What he didn’t say, though he might have, was the Thunder proved it could be done when they reached the NBA finals in 2012.

Yet, given Russell Westbrook’s time in the league, not to mention Steven Adams’ and Paul George’s, and what it costs to keep in-demand players the further they get from their original contracts, the Thunder are simply on the expensive end of their timeline.

Looking forward

Beyond those topics, if there was anything Presti returned to again and again, it was the idea that the draft, in which OKC picked up 19-year-old Darius Bazley with the 23rd pick, is a mere starting point as to the moves and machinations that will eventually bring a full roster into the 2019-20 regular season.

“There’s so many different ways to add to your team,” he said. “This is really the beginning of the offseason.”

He wasn’t kidding.

Though the Thunder have made no announcement, it has been reported by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony that OKC would be signing Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort to a two-way contract, allowing Dort to shuttle between the Oklahoma City Blue and the Thunder during the upcoming season.

In apparent confirmation of the deal, Dort retweeted Givony’s Twitter message breaking the news.

Some believe Dort to be the top draft-eligible prospect to not be chosen Thursday night.

The freshman of the year in the Pac 12 last season, Dort, a 6-4 guard, averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Sun Devils, shooting 40.5 percent overall and 30.7 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

Players on two-way contracts may spend up to 45 days with their organization’s NBA team. Teams are allowed 15 players under NBA contract and up to two “two-way” players.

Last season, the Thunder’s Deonte Burton began the season on a two-way deal and finished it under a full NBA contract.

The addition of Dort may be a small move, but it would appear to be a sound one.

Several mock drafts pegged Dort to be one of the first 10 selections in the second round, with Sports Illustrated predicting he’d the 31st overall selection, which would have made him the second round’s first pick.

More moves could come.

One pre-draft report, from Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fisher, claimed Adams, Roberson and Dennis Schroder to all be “very available at the moment.”

The departure of any of those three would be a huge move on the Thunder’s part. Presti didn’t brace anybody for moves like that during his after-draft press conference, yet still implied many moves could be made.

“I look at the offseason as a longer period of time,” he said. “We sat here last year, [Paul George] was a free agent, Jerami [Grant] was a free agent, Nerlens [Noel] wasn’t in the picture at the time, Dennis Schroder was still 75 days away from going on the team.

“This is just kind of the beginning of it.”

Who knows what the Thunder might look like by offseason’s end.