Sam Presti (born c. 1976 in Concord, Massachusetts) is an American basketball executive. Since June 7, 2007, he has been the General Manager (GM) of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics. In the summer of 2010, the team extended his contract.
Presti previously served in several progressively more significant positions for the San Antonio Spurs after beginning as an intern. He met their General Manager R. C. Buford at a basketball camp in Aspen, Colorado. He is given much of the credit for encouraging the Spurs to draft point guard Tony Parker in 2001.
In his first move as GM of the Sonics, he traded multiple-time All-Star Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics, whom Allen helped win the NBA title in 2008, in a large trade that included the draft rights to Jeff Green. He shortly thereafter traded All-Star Rashard Lewis to Orlando for a second-round draft pick, generating a 9-million-dollar trade exception which Presti later used to land Kurt Thomas and two first-round draft picks from Phoenix. To lead the team, he selected as head coach P. J. Carlesimo, whom he knew as an assistant coach at San Antonio. In Presti's first season in charge, the team was 20–62, the worst in the history of the franchise. Toward the end of that season, the league authorized a move and after a court battle and settlement, the team was allowed to move to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Subsequently, they were renamed the Thunder.
During his second season, the Thunder began the season 1–12 and Presti fired Carlesimo, and hired assistant coach Scott Brooks as the interim coach. Under Brooks, the Thunder went 22–47. Presti acquired Thabo Sefolosha from the Chicago Bulls for a late first-round pick. Presti also initiated a trade for Tyson Chandler from the New Orleans Hornets for two backups (Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith), but the trade was later rescinded because Chandler failed his required physical.
Coach Brooks was retained and in Presti's third season the plan began to provide much improved results. A strong defense arose with the help of Assistant Coach Ron Adams. Kevin Durant, whom Presti drafted in 2007, became the league's leading scorer and other higher draft picks obtained in the previous weak seasons and a few veterans successfully filled roles and improved the team's record to 50–32. The Thunder played the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, forcing them to six games before losing, 4–2.
Presti graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in communications, politics and law from Emerson College in Boston, where he played Division III basketball. Showing his commitment to defense on the court just as he does as a general manager, Presti once took six charging fouls in one game. He is an accomplished drummer whose CDs have benefited a children's hospital.
- Sonic youth: Presti, 30, gets job as GM
- Sam Amick (June 4, 2013). "How the Spurs found, then almost lost, Tony Parker". USA Today. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Mike Baldwin (February 19, 2009). "OKC Thunder's trade for Chandler rescinded". NewsOK.com. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
|Current heads of basketball operations in the National Basketball Association|
|Note: Those listed here either hold the title President of Basketball Operations or General Manager, or both.|