Presti Says Jackson "Core Member" Of Team

By Randy Renner

Thunder GM Sam Presti left no doubt as to how he and the organization feel about backup point guard Reggie Jackson and how hard the team will work to sign Jackson to a contract extension.

"We see him as a core member of the team and of the organization and we're gonna put our best foot forward and I believe he will as well to see if we can figure something out (on a new deal)," Presti said.

Jackson's future was the first question in a half hour session with the Thunder boss and there were several follow-ups. With each answer Presti continued to underscore Jackson's value to the franchise.

"We wanna invest in Reggie. He's a great example of a lot of things that we try to do here and the next step is to keep him with us for a long time."

Jackson is likely in line for an extension that would pay him at least $8 to $10 million a season and if he and the team can't get an extension done by the October 31st deadline and Jackson makes it into restricted free agency the price could go up, a lot.

Presti again said, just as he did at the end of last season, the team has no plans to look into possible trades involving Jackson.

"That's just not something that we've considered," Presti said, "With him in particular he's a guy that we see being here for a long time. It may not be something that we get solved in October, we'd like to try to get something done in advance (of the deadline) if possible, if not we pick it up next season. We don't look at him as anything other than a core member."

Jackson has said many times he hopes to be able to remain in Oklahoma City but he has also said just as many times that he wants to be a starter and a starting point guard. The Thunder already have a guy at that position who's pretty darn good. Does Presti view that as a potential road block to a deal?

"It would be troubling to me if (Reggie) wasn't confident in himself and didn't see himself as a very important player to this team. At the same time we've never had any issues here about what's most important and the most important thing, once training camp starts is winning."

And Jackson agrees, saying just on Wednesday that he's committed to doing everything he can to help the Thunder win the NBA Championship at the end of this season.

Presti began his news conference with an update about players who have undergone some off-season surgical procedures. Both Perry Jones III and Nick Collison had knees scoped and should be ready to go for camp. Grant Jerrett's recovery from foot surgery is progressing but he's still a couple weeks or so away and Presti reveled today that Kendrick Perkins suffered a strained quad this week in workouts and will likely miss the first 10 to 14 days of camp.

One of the other big questions (at least in the minds of fans) is what the team is planning to do at the shooting guard position. Will the starter be Jackson? Jones? Jeremy Lamb? Andre Roberson? Anthony Morrow?

"We just have to see how those things play out (in camp) it's not so much the starter as it is how the team blends. The team is designed to continue to have a defensive disposition with the ability to have flexibility off the bench offensively. With that being said I don't think there's a clear cut person."

If there is it might be Roberson because he will definitely bring the defense and he has worked all off-season on his shot and finding more ways to score, especially with back door cuts and putbacks off offensive rebounds.

This will be one of the more fascinating things to watch during camp.

Presti also praised the work ethic and continued development of the Thunder's big three, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. All three players were ranked by Sports Illustrated among the Top 20 players in the NBA. OKC was the only team with three players in the Top 20.

"Obviously we're really pleased with those guys, not only with what they've accomplished but also with who they are as people, competitors and ambassadors. They've set the standards that we work by on a day-to-day basis here."

And Presti believes all three will continue to get better for the next few seasons.

He got emotional at the end of the news conference when he broke a little news that the Thunder have hired former guard Royal Ivey to be an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder's D-League team.

"He made a significant decision to start his post playing career with us," Presti said and then choked up as he thought about what Ivey has meant to the team through the years and the type of person he is.

"Roy had a huge impact with us and when you're building an organization there's a lot of firsts and for him to make a choice to start with us on the next phase of his career I think those are really special things for an organization like the Thunder and he's on the floor out there right now, working with guys."

The Thunder are expected to add a couple of players to their roster for training camp which begins on Tuesday.