Thunder GM Presti: I “Missed” On Hayward Trade

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said he made a mistake by trading for Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, according to ESPN.

Hayward was supposed to provide a veteran presence to the rotation but barely played in the postseason. Oklahoma City gave up three players and two second-round picks for Hayward.

“I missed on that,” Presti said Tuesday during his end-of-season press conference. “That’s on me. But I’m learning, I’m trying to learn this team, I’m trying to learn the pace of the team a little bit. And trying to be a great observer of the team as it’s going through its paces, knowing that it’s really going to change on its own in and of itself.”

Hayward, who is headed to free agency, expressed frustration over his role after the team was eliminated.

“Obviously disappointing with kind of how it all worked out. This is not what I thought it would be. Certainly frustrating. … We have a great team here with great young players, a great coach. So the future is bright,” Hayward said, adding, “I feel like as a player I have a lot to offer. I just wasn’t given much of an opportunity to do that.”

As Presti pointed out, the move at least created some cap flexibility going forward for the Thunder, since all three of the players they sent to Charlotte in the deal are owed guaranteed money for 2024/25, whereas Hayward’s $33MM+ salary will come off OKC’s books this summer.

Here’s more from Presti’s press conference, per Justin Martinez of The Oklahoman:

  • Presti is happy with the team and coaching staff in place. “It’s not a matter of knowing what you need,” he said. “It’s a matter of knowing what you have. … I think one of the things that we learned is we have a really good base to work with.” As usual, Presti is armed with plenty of draft capital and approximately $35MM in cap space. And once again, he doesn’t feel the need to get a star player to complement what he already has on the roster. “I think we learned that we do have some guys in (Chet Holmgren) and (Jalen Williams) who are certainly not there yet, but I wouldn’t bet against them,” Presti said. “We didn’t mortgage our future to get that result. We didn’t do anything performative to accelerate that process. … But I’m glad we took the path that we did. Ultimately, we trusted the team.”
  • Presti wouldn’t tip his hand regarding Josh Giddey, who is extension-eligible this offseason but was removed from the starting lineup in the second round of the playoffs. “He is tough, and he is clutch,” Presti said. “He has been asked to change some things and adjust to different things, and he hasn’t flinched one time. He’s trying to figure out how to best help the team. … We’ll sit down and have those conversations relative to his contract when those are appropriate. But we also don’t have to do anything right now either because he has another year. I’m super open-minded about all of our players and where I think they can get to.”
  • With the No. 12 pick in the draft, Presti is wide open about the type of player he’ll pick. “We’re not looking for something specific, like an on-court need,” he said.
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