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News » Presti made right call on Allen, Lewis

Presti made right call on Allen, Lewis

Presti made right call on Allen, Lewis
Ray Allen became a champion nearly one year to the date after general manager Sam Presti traded him from Seattle to Boston. Rashard Lewis, nearly two years after Presti agreed to a sign-and-trade that sent him to Orlando, is now a handful of wins from helping the Magic hoist that same gold championship ball.

The successes of the former franchise cornerstones has made it easy for some to waive the "I-told-you-so" finger at Presti and team chairman Clay Bennett, who were accused of gutting the team with the intent to create fan apathy and split for Oklahoma City.

Former Sonics vice chairman Lenny Wilkens told the Seattle Times last week he urged Bennett to not dismantle the team. Wilkens resigned shortly after Allen and Lewis were traded, citing a difference of opinion with ownership.

"It's unfortunate Seattle lost Rashard, but he turned out to be a heck of a player for the Magic," Wilkens said. "I thought Seattle should have kept him. It was a major cause of concern, and after (the Lewis trade) I knew they were going in a different direction than what I planned."

At first glance, you might think Wilkens was right.

Lewis led the league in 3-pointers made with 220 this season. Allen finished second with 199. Lewis was named to his second All-Star team in February. Allen in February earned his ninth selection and second since his trade from Seattle. A few more Magic wins and both will be NBA champions.

"Well, that just shows what type of talent we had here," Wilkens said.

But the most important number to remember when analyzing Allen and Lewis' perceived untimely departure is one - as in one playoff appearance and one winning season in their 4 1/2 years together.

Allen and Lewis' postseason success didn't come until they were the third-best players on their respective teams, not the first and second options on the same squad. You could make the argument that adding Kevin Durant alongside Allen and Lewis would have made the Sonics playoff contenders. But Presti's goal isn't to field a team just good enough to compete for the eighth-seed. His goal is to create a champion that can sustain success.

Allen was weeks away from his 32nd birthday when he was traded and coming off ankle injuries that limited him to 55 games. He was owed $52 million over the next three years at the time of the trade. Couple that with Lewis' second-year salary and the two would have eaten up more than $35 million of the Thunder's payroll this season and more than $38 million next year.

The Thunder would not be widely considered the next best up-and-coming team had Presti signed off on continuing to carry that burden. But by trading Lewis, Presti indirectly acquired Serge Ibaka, last year's 24th overall draft pick, this year's 25th overall selection and Phoenix's unprotected first-round draft pick next year. Versatile forward Jeff Green, meanwhile, wouldn't be here had Presti not traded Allen.

Enjoy Rashard Lewis in this Finals series. ROOT for him if you like. Just don't make the mistake of thinking the Thunder would be better off with his services.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 10, 2009


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