You might expect Thunder GM Sam Presti to fall in line behind Mavs owner Mark Cuban in calling for limits on the participation of NBA players in the Olympics, considering Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are all playing in London after a long postseason run this spring. Sam Amick of SI.com writes that while Presti is officially neutral on the issue, his enthusiasm for the benefits of international play is apparent, as he harked back to the growth he saw in Durant and Westbrook after the 2010 World Championships. "I think it's really helpful for them to play under different circumstances; it only rounds them out as players and makes them better," Presti said. "What we observed from the World Championship was just the mental endurance that it takes to go through an international competition and the training camp that leads up to it in medal-round play just to get there." The comments made by Presti, a product of the Spurs front office, seem to echo what Spurs GM R.C. Buford has said about the issue. Amick has plenty more in today's piece, and we've got the highlights here:
- The market for remaining frontcourt players is being held up while teams wait for Kenyon Martin to sign, Amick hears. The Lakers and Nets are among teams he's considering, but the willingness of many others to settle for the minimum salary so far this summer has eroded Martin's leverage. Martin is reportedly uninterested in a deal for the minimum.
- Amick takes a closer look at how NBA teams are being more cautious in handing out deals under the new CBA, along with the rise in minimum-salary deals. Luke Adams compiled a list of pacts for the minimum through August 1. The contract Roger Mason signed this weekend with the Hornets is another minimum deal, Amick reports. He also notes that players union president Derek Fisher and vice president Maurice Evans, two key figures in last year's lockout, remain unsigned.
- Emptying his notebook, Amick passes along a James Harden quote from last month that gives indication he's confident about his prospects for an extension with the Thunder. "I'm pretty, a hundred percent, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be in Oklahoma City," Harden said. "I'll let my agent and Mr. Presti and [Thunder owner Clay] Bennett discuss all that, so I'll let them handle that and stay out of it for right now and worry about the USA Olympics."