Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti says trading away Kiwi centre Steven Adams was one of the most “challenging, difficult” decisions he’s had to make.
Last week, Adams’ departure from the Thunder was confirmed as part of a four-team trade with the 27-year-old now headed to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Thunder traded away Adams as they are now in full-rebuild mode, meaning they are hoping to build a championship-calibre team through young talent they can draft and develop. Other players traded away included 10-time all star Chris Paul and top sixth-man Dennis Schroder.
Adams has spent his entire seven-year career at Oklahoma City since being drafted 12th overall in 2013 and during his time there, he has gone on to carve out a reputation as one of the NBA's toughest on-court but a loveable Kiwi full of humour and stoicism off it, making him a fan favourite.
With all that in mind, Presti said in a media conference today that trading away Adams, despite knowing the team is rebuilding, was a tough day in the office.
"It wasn’t my best day of work, I’ll tell you that," Presti said. "That was a really challenging, difficult decision to make.
“We have to put the best interest of the organisation first. He’s left a tremendous mark on our franchise."
Adams has been voted the NBA's toughest player three times in the annual GM survey but his wit and charm in interviews with media - along with his laid back persona and fashion sense - is just as admired.
The 27-year-old departs the Thunder featuring in the top five of all five main statistics for career totals; 5,191 points [fourth], 4,029 rebounds [third], 615 assists [fifth], 469 steals [third] and 531 blocks [third]. He is also fourth overall in minutes played, having spent 14,207 minutes on the floor in an OKC jersey.
Adams was usual, relaxed self with his parting words, thanking Oklahoma City for “taking me in seven years ago”.
“You guys have been awesome! I doff my hat to you for your hospitality. Always a pleasure, never a chore.”
Adams joins a Pelicans outfit considered to be a team looking to contend for an NBA title within the next few years, having accrued young stars such as 2019 No.1 draft pick Zion Williamson and this season's Most Improved Player and one-time all star Brandon Ingram.
Adams will likely slot straight into the starting five alongside Williamson and Ingram for New Orleans when the new NBA season starts next season with the Pelicans' depth at centre lacking.
He will also call New Orleans home for at least the next three years after signing a contract extension with the Pelicans worth $50 million.